U.S., Mexico may be nearing a deal; Sides are close on new NAFTA agreement, but thorny issues with Canada remain.

08/17/18 Los Angeles Times

trudeauThe Trump administration is close to striking a deal with Mexico on a revamped North American Free Trade Agreement, analysts said, but thorny issues are yet to be resolved with Canada, the third party in the trilateral pact.

Reaching an agreement with Mexico would mark a breakthrough for the administration after a year of roller-coaster talks and tension with its longtime North American trading partners. President Trump has frequently threatened to withdraw from NAFTA, linked the renegotiations to his call for a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border and slapped tariffs on Mexican and Canadian steel to apply pressure to make concessions.

But both Mexico and the U.S. have strong incentives to push through a deal quickly. Mexico wants to lock in an agreement before its new leftist president takes office, and the White House is keen on achieving a win on trade ahead of the midterm elections.

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USTR Lighthizer eyes NAFTA ‘breakthrough,’ Mexico urges flexibility

08/16/18 Reuters

Image result for Lighthizer

M. Scott Mahaskey/POLITICO

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on Thursday expressed hope a breakthrough could be made in coming days on reworking the NAFTA trade deal, though his Mexican counterpart said flexibility was needed to reach agreement.

Lighthizer was speaking in Washington during the latest round of high-level talks between U.S. and Mexican officials to rejig the North American Free Trade Agreement, known as NAFTA, with a deal still elusive a year after the renegotiation began.

“I’m hopeful that in the next several days we’ll have a breakthrough,” Lighthizer said in response to a question from U.S. President Donald Trump on how talks were progressing during a U.S. cabinet meeting at the White House.

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Mexico unsure if it will finish NAFTA talks with U.S. in August

08/15/18 Reuters

Guajardo 5Mexico’s economy minister on Wednesday said that Mexico and the United States may not meet an August goal to finish bilateral talks to revamp the NAFTA trade deal, which is beset by disagreements over automobile trade rules and other issues.

Top Mexican officials started their fourth week of talks with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in Washington over a new North American Free Trade Agreement.

Asked if the August goal was still viable, Guajardo said, “That is why we are here. We are fully engaged. We don’t know if there will be a successful conclusion.”

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Why Nafta’s losers will always drown out the winners

08/09/18 Financial Times

Photo: Reuters

As tension over trade ratchets up around the world, it is common to try to remind US policymakers that trade is not a “zero-sum” game. On the contrary, economic thinkers from Adam Smith all the way to Paul Krugman have shown that, by allowing countries to focus on that which they do best, trade can benefit everyone.

The logic behind this economic theory is overpowering and it has been born out by experience. Even so, it is politically irrelevant. It cannot counter the deep-seated facet of human nature that we are far more conscious of what we lose than of what we win, and that we are deeply averse to losses.

An increase in trade will create losers as well as winners. But it is a virtual certainty that the losers will be more visible. Just look at the US and Mexico: many Americans are convinced that the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement inflicted grievous losses on them. The driving sense of grievance caused by the decline of US manufacturing in the hollowed-out rust belt of the upper Midwest arguably made Donald Trump president.

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Trump praises Mexico, threatens Canada with auto tariffs

08/10/18 Washington Post

USA and Mexico

President Donald Trump said Friday that a trade deal with Mexico is “coming along nicely.” But he threatened Canada with auto tariffs if the U.S. and Canada can’t forge a deal.

Trump appeared to be referring to efforts to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement between the U.S., Mexico and Canada in his tweet from his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

He said any deal with Mexico must take care of American autoworkers and farmers, but he praised the new president of Mexico, calling him “an absolute gentleman.”

His message to Canada was far less friendly.

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U.S.-Mexico NAFTA talks drag on as autos sticking points emerge

08/10/18 Reuters

Washauto06_bmw_325_AudeVivereTalks between the United States and Mexico over the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement were set to drag into next week, as auto industry officials said on Friday that new sticking points had emerged over President Donald Trump’s threat to impose steep automotive tariffs.

Auto industry officials familiar with the talks said the Trump administration wants the ability to impose national security tariffs on future Mexican production from new auto assembly and parts plants.

These officials said U.S negotiators had essentially agreed that a new NAFTA trade deal would exempt existing Mexican auto plants from any “Section 232” tariffs that Trump may impose.

But the U.S. negotiators do not want to apply the same guarantees to new Mexican auto plants, the officials said, as the potential threat of 25 percent tariffs would discourage new automotive investment in Mexico to serve the U.S. market.

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Uncertainty over NAFTA hasn’t stopped Mexico’s car manufacturing cities from thriving

08/09/18 Washington Post

cars at borderDuring his campaign, Donald Trump called American investment in this city “an absolute disgrace.” He lobbied Ford to stop building a $1.6 billion factory here, and the company acceded.

It appeared that this colonial capital, booming thanks to auto companies lured by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), could be undone by the Trump administration’s efforts to gut one of the world’s most profitable free-trade zones.

But after more than a year of strained NAFTA negotiations, the unemployment rate here is approaching zero. On the horizon, a sprawling BMW factory glitters, nearly completed, in the desert sun. Recruiters stalk the main plazas with pleading signs: “We are searching for talent.”

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