U.S., Mex­ico, Canada Has­ten NAFTA Talks as Elec­tions Loom

Iran News - - WORLD NEWS -

LIMA (Reuters) - The United States, Mex­ico and Canada will ex­pe­dite NAFTA talks in a push to reach a deal in com­ing weeks, Mex­ico’s pres­i­dent said on Satur­day af­ter a meet­ing with the U.S. vice pres­i­dent and Cana­dian prime min­is­ter.

On the side­lines of the Sum­mit of the Amer­i­cas in Lima, Peru, Mex­i­can Pres­i­dent En­rique Pena Ni­eto, U.S. Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence and Cana­dian Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau said they thought an agree­ment could be reached be­fore Mex­i­can elec­tions on July 1, al­though they also said no dead­lines had been set.

“We agreed to keep up work to­wards reach­ing a deal and to sum­mon our spe­cial ne­go­ti­at­ing teams to ac­cel­er­ate their ef­forts,” Pena Ni­eto told re­porters af­ter meet­ing Pence.

“It was the same thing I agreed to with Prime Min­is­ter Trudeau,” Pena Ni­eto added. “We hope in com­ing weeks we can reach an agree­ment.”

The three coun­tries, which cre­ated the world’s largest free trade re­gion by form­ing the North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment (NAFTA) in the 1990s, are under pres­sure to rene­go­ti­ate the deal be­fore Mex­i­cans elect a new pres­i­dent in July.

There are con­cerns U.S.-Mex­ico re­la­tions could get rock­ier with Pena Ni­eto, a cen­trist, un­able to seek a sec­ond six-year term due to Mex­ico’s term lim­its.

U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has threat­ened to kill NAFTA if it is not changed to se­cure bet­ter terms for U.S. work­ers and com­pa­nies. In Mex­ico, leftist pres­i­den­tial fron­trun­ner An­dres Manuel Lopez Obrador has vowed to cut the coun­try’s eco­nomic de­pen­dence on for­eign pow­ers and to put Trump “in his place.”

With U.S. mid-term con­gres­sional elec­tions also pend­ing in Novem­ber, Trudeau said Canada would de­fer to Mex­ico and the United States on a time­line.

“Of course, we’d like to see a re-ne­go­ti­ated deal land sooner than later,” Trudeau said in a press con­fer­ence, cit­ing Mex­i­can and U.S. elec­tions as a fac­tor in tim­ing. “We have a cer­tain amount of pres­sure to try to move for­ward suc­cess­fully in the com­ing weeks.”

On Fri­day, U.S. Com­merce Sec­re­tary Wil­bur Ross said pro­vin­cial elec­tions in Canada in June were also a fac­tor, and that a deal in May was pos­si­ble.

Trudeau told re­porters there has been “po­ten­tial progress” re­gard­ing car man­u­fac­tur­ing and “a broad range of things”, how­ever, no new de­tails have emerged from the Lima con­fer­ence on any spe­cific agree­ments.

On Fri­day, auto in­dus­try ex­ec­u­tives said U.S. trade ne­go­tia­tors sig­nif­i­cantly soft­ened their de­mands to in­crease re­gional au­to­mo­tive con­tent under a re­worked NAFTA trade pact in an ef­fort to seal a deal in the next few weeks.

Af­ter meet­ing Pena Ni­eto and Trudeau separately, Pence said he was leav­ing the sum­mit “very hope­ful that we are very close to a rene­go­ti­ated NAFTA.”

“There is a real pos­si­bil­ity that we could ar­rive at an agree­ment within the next sev­eral weeks,” Pence said.

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