Canada News Agency

NAFTA talks hit wall as Mexico, Canada push back on U.S. demands

MEXICO CITY – America, Mexico and Canada didn’t resolve any main variations in a fifth spherical of talks to remodel the NAFTA commerce deal, drawing a swift criticism from the Trump administration on Tuesday that the shortage of progress may doom the method, Reuters reported.
 
Flags are pictured throughout the fifth spherical of NAFTA talks involving the US, Mexico and Canada, in Mexico Metropolis, Mexico, November 19, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
 
The three nations have vowed to proceed talks on the North American Free Commerce Settlement (NAFTA) by means of March, however the yawning disagreements on core U.S. calls for are piling strain on negotiators to give you fixes earlier than Mexico’s 2018 presidential marketing campaign begins within the spring.
 
Mexico and Canada have rejected a U.S. proposal to boost the minimal threshold for autos to 85 p.c North American content material from 62.5 p.c in addition to require half of auto content material to return from the US.
 
The 2 have additionally resisted a variety of different U.S. calls for, together with a plan to scrap a key dispute decision mechanism and proposed curbs on Mexican and Canadian agriculture.
 
Minutes after the three international locations issued a brief joint assertion underlining advances and vowing to proceed work on concluding negotiations “as quickly as doable,” U.S. Commerce Consultant Robert Lighthizer struck a unique tone.
 
“Whereas we’ve made progress on a few of our efforts to modernize NAFTA, I stay involved in regards to the lack of headway,” he mentioned in an announcement. “To date, we’ve seen no proof that Canada or Mexico are prepared to noticeably interact on provisions that may result in a rebalanced settlement. Absent rebalancing, we is not going to attain a passable outcome,” Lighthizer added.
 
Lighthizer and his Mexican and Canadian counterparts stayed away from the talks in Mexico Metropolis, the place the temper was calmer than within the earlier spherical final month in Washington.
 
Negotiators mentioned advances had been made in agreeing on of the technical element that varieties the bedrock of the accord. However time was operating out in the event that they wish to attain a deal by the tip of March.
 
The negotiating groups are as a consequence of meet once more in Washington in December earlier than a sixth formal spherical of negotiations is scheduled for Montreal, Canada from Jan. 23-28.
 
THREATS
 
A U.S. official mentioned wording had been agreed upon for anti-corruption, telecommunications, items market entry, sanitary and meals security measures and technical limitations to commerce with areas left for disputed sections.
 
A NAFTA banner is seen throughout the fifth spherical of NAFTA talks involving the US, Mexico and Canada, in Mexico Metropolis, Mexico, November 19, 2017. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
 
“I believe there’s quite a lot of gelling happening, reasonably than quite a lot of closing, so I believe there’s a great argument that we’re on schedule, that assembly our deadline of an settlement by March shouldn’t be out of the query,” the official mentioned, talking on situation of anonymity as a result of sensitivity of the talks.
 
U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to withdraw from NAFTA until he can rework it in favor of the US, arguing that the pact has hollowed out U.S. manufacturing and precipitated a commerce deficit of over $60 billion with Mexico.
 
The U.S. official expressed frustration that Mexico and Canada weren’t participating in talks on the auto content material proposal and others geared toward “rebalancing” commerce within the area.
 
“For those who make a proposal and the opposite facet doesn’t reply, what’s it you’re doing?,” the official mentioned.
 
The U.S. auto proposal is a central plank of Trump’s America First technique to spice up U.S. manufacturing, nevertheless it faces stiff resistance from the auto business, which worries it would make North American carmakers much less aggressive and costlier.
 
Mexican and Canadian officers mentioned they wished the US to clarify how the auto plan may prosper.
 
“The place is the advantage in making a counterproposal to a requirement that might take us backwards?” mentioned a Canadian supply.
 
The U.S. official did be aware, nevertheless, that Mexico had put ahead a counterproposal to a U.S. plan to limit entry for Mexican and Canadian corporations to U.S. public contract tenders that sought to place U.S. corporations in the identical state of affairs in Mexico.
 
“I believe Mexico is being useful in utilizing a counterproposal to crystallize their views,” the official mentioned.
 
Mexico additionally formally proposed that NAFTA permit for a assessment of the accord each 5 years, as an alternative of terminating the deal robotically if it’s not renegotiated, as the US has demanded, three Mexican officers mentioned.
 
Taking impact in 1994, NAFTA underpins a lot of the greater than $1 trillion in annual trilateral commerce, and Washington’s threats to stroll away from the pact have spooked markets.
 
Mexican officers initially expressed hope that chapters corresponding to telecoms and e-commerce might be closed throughout the spherical. However chief Mexican negotiator Ken Smith advised reporters that none would wrap up this time.
 
Reporting by David Lawder and Anthony Esposito; Modifying by Cynthia Osterman; further reporting by David Ljunggren; Modifying by Grant McCool and Cynthia Osterman