Published: Tue, August 07, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Mexico says talks with US will cover outstanding NAFTA issues

Mexico says talks with US will cover outstanding NAFTA issues

Mexico's Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo speaks to the media during a news conference at Los Pinos presidential residence in Mexico City, Mexico, May 2018.

Canada's ambassador to the United States says predictions that NAFTA talks can be settled by the end of month are "aspirational" - even if American and Mexican officials are close to resolving their differences on complex auto sector issues.

President Donald Trump has always been critical of trade deals including NAFTA, claiming the USA has been taken advantage of by Canada and Mexico.

Mexico is also insisting it will not agree to terms with the US that it does not expect Canada to accept, these sources said.

Ildefonso Guajardo said after leaving a meeting with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer that the group had yet to discuss issues such as the "sunset clause", a provision sought by the United States under which the agreement would have to be renegotiated every five years.

"We are optimistic that we can try to land a deal before the end of August".

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Another senior Mexican negotiator was a little less bullish about the chances of a deal this month. I think it can be done, but there can also be problems.

"This is a trilateral negotiation - as both the Mexicans and Americans have reiterated yet again in the last few days", David McNaughton, Canada's ambassador to the US, said in a statement. In his interview earlier in the day, MacNaughton said next Canadian negotiators could be back at the table as early as next week for three-way talks. Some experts say this is a sign of tensions between Canada and the United States, while officials insist trilateral talks will soon resume.

Guajardo said Mexico and USA negotiators would work through the weekend to advance talks and that he could meet again with top US officials on Wednesday or Thursday.

Guajardo told reporters before a meeting at the U.S. Trade Representative office in Washington that there will not be a deal on controversial auto sector rules until all NAFTA issues are resolved.

Lori Wallach, head of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch division, a Washington-based public advocacy group, said the views of the United States and Mexico were converging on Nafta policy, in large part because Lopez Obrador's team had been backing the USA objective to raise wages for automotive workers. "We have said that is not something we can work with".

"Everything will fall into place or nothing will fall into place", Guajardo said.

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