Nafta Talks Likely to Wait Beyond July Given Full Agendas

07/11/2018 Bloomberg

nafta_logo1Hopes for quickly resuming Nafta talks following Mexico’s election earlier this month may prove unrealistic due to scheduling conflicts for the top negotiators, according to three people familiar with the negotiations.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is set to go on vacation through July 22, according to the people, who asked not to be identified, while Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland is in Europe this week. When Lighthizer returns, Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo will be busy at a Latin American trade summit.

Nafta talks reached an impasse in May after Lighthizer said Mexico’s pledges of flexibility over automotive wages and content weren’t enough. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau then said that a planned meeting with President Donald Trump to potentially seal a Nafta deal collapsed after the U.S. insisted the meeting was conditional on adding an automatic termination clause.

Time is now running out to meet Freeland’s promise that negotiators would “make a real push over the summer,” though they could still meet in August when talks celebrate their first anniversary.

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