Mul­ti­ple rounds of NAFTA talks pos­si­ble, says Mex­ico min­is­ter

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

MEX­ICO CITY: There could be be­tween six to nine rounds of ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween the United States, Canada and Mex­ico in the event a quick deal is reached on a re­vamp of the North Amer­i­can Trade Agree­ment, Mex­i­can Econ­omy Min­is­ter Ilde­fonso Gua­jardo said.

Gua­jardo told re­porters in Mex­ico City on Fri­day the NAFTA mem­bers were look­ing at avoid­ing gaps of more than three weeks be­tween ne­go­ti­at­ing rounds with a view to mak­ing quick progress. “If we cal­cu­late the times to­ward the end of the year, we’re say­ing that this would give us a uni­verse of rounds that could be be­tween six and nine rounds,” Gua­jardo said.

Reuters this week re­ported the three coun­tries had agreed an ag­gres­sive timetable to bro­ker a deal on NAFTA in order to avoid politi­ciz­ing Mex­ico’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion in July 2018, fore­cast­ing rounds held at three-week in­ter­vals.

The first round of talks on rene­go­ti­at­ing NAFTA is due to be­gin in Wash­ing­ton on Aug 16. Two Mex­i­can of­fi­cials said the neigh­bor­ing coun­tries aimed to hold seven rounds of ne­go­ti­a­tions, and US of­fi­cials told Reuters that Mex­ico wanted the talks wrapped up by year-end 2017. Gua­jardo noted that it was in the in­ter­ests of the ne­go­tia­tors to wrap up talks in good time lest a new gov­ern­ment take of­fice in Mex­ico and refuse to honor the terms. US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has pushed for a rene­go­ti­a­tion of NAFTA, threat­en­ing to dump it if he can­not re­work the ac­cord to the ben­e­fit of the United States. He ar­gues it has fu­eled a trade deficit with Mex­ico and cost thou­sands of US jobs. — Reuters

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