PM feels ‘positive’ over NAFTA talks
NEW YORK/MEXICO CITY • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday said he felt “positive” about talks to rework the NAFTA trade pact, while a top Mexican official held out hope a deal could be hammered out by the end of May.
U.S. officials say negotiations need to wrap up very soon to give the current Congress time to vote on a final text.
“To be honest, we are down to a point where there is a good deal on the table,” Trudeau told the Economic Club of New York.
“It’s right down to the last conversations ... I’m feeling positive about this, but it won’t be done until it’s done.”
Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland was due to travel to the U.S. capital Thursday for internal meetings and talks with key stakeholders. A Mexican technical negotiating team is in Washington but there is no date set for the next NAFTA ministerial meeting.
Mexico’s Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said a deal could be reached by the end of May, but added that if no agreement is reached the talks could extend beyond the July 1 Mexican presidential election. For that to happen, though, the U.S. and Mexico would have to end what officials say is deadlock over U.S. demands to raise wages in the auto sector and boost the North American content of cars made in the three NAFTA nations.
Critics complain the move is a clear swipe at Mexico, which U.S. President Donald Trump says brought in lowwage manufacturing jobs at American expense after NAFTA was signed in 1994.
“Any renegotiated NAFTA that implies losses of existing Mexican jobs is unacceptable,” Guajardo said.
Under the statute that would allow a simple yes or no vote on NAFTA, Trump must notify Congress 90 days before he can sign the agreement. The U.S. International Trade Commission then has up to 105 days after the signing to produce a study on the effects of the agreement.
U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan had said that the Republican-controlled Congress would need to be notified of a new deal by Thursday to give lawmakers a chance to approve it before a newly elected Congress takes over in January.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the Economic Club of New York on Thursday that he feels there is “a good deal on the table” for NAFTA, “but it won’t be done until it’s done.”