Nafta Countries Gather With ‘Narrow Path’ to Getting Quick Deal

09/22/2017 Bloomberg

NAFTANorth American trading partners are downplaying expectations for major progress from talks to update the free-trade agreement that resume in Ottawa on Saturday, even as the clock runs down on their goal of getting a quick deal.

Talks to rewrite the 1994 trade accord were spurred in August by U.S. President Donald Trump, who has regularly threatened to withdraw if he can’t wring out better terms for American workers and industries. While complex negotiations for a pact that underpins more than $1.2 trillion in annual trade typically could take years, the countries are pushing to wrap up talks on modernizing the North American Free Trade Agreement by December.

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Mattis Heads to Mexico Amid Strain Over Disaster Condolences and Aid

09/13/2017 New York Times

USA and Mexico

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Jim Mattis will resume his role as the reassurer for American allies this week when he heads to Mexico, where he will try to mend relations after President Trump failed to quickly offer condolences for the earthquake on Friday that killed at least 96 people and severely damaged thousands of homes.

Mr. Mattis will also try to signal to Mexican officials that ties between the United States and its southern flank remain strong. After four days without word from Mr. Trump about the 8.2-magnitude earthquake in Oaxaca State, Mexico on Monday rescinded its offer of aid to the United States for people affected by Hurricane Harvey.

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After Trump threats, ministers working at ‘warp speed’ claim NAFTA progress

09/05/2017 Reuters

NAFTA_logoMEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Trade Ministers from Canada, Mexico and the United States said on Tuesday they made progress in talks to update the NAFTA trade pact, a relief after a barrage of threats by U.S. President Donald Trump, although the officials did not tackle the hardest issues.

A trilateral statement issued by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo sought to quell concerns about the U.S. commitment to the North American Free Trade Agreement in light of Trump’s recent warnings he could terminate it.

They announced a third round of talks in Ottawa for Sept 23-27. Guajardo said the more complex issues such as Mexican wages, local content rules and the U.S. trade deficit would be addressed in those sessions.

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Mexico economy minister sees common ground on energy in NAFTA talks

09/05/2017 Reuters

Idelfonso-GuajardoMEXICO CITY (Reuters) – The United States, Mexico and Canada are largely in agreement on issues related to the energy sector, Mexico’s economy minister said Tuesday, as the second round of talks to modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement comes to a close.

Speaking at a press conference, Mexican minister Ildefonso Guajardo said the countries are still discussing whether to devote a separate chapter to energy in the agreement, or whether to weave it in across the board.

That issue should be settled by the next round of talks, he added.

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U.S. trade rep says in NAFTA talks he keeps Trump’s views in mind

09/05/2017 Reuters

NAFTA_logoMEXICO CITY (Reuters) – U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said on Tuesday that he and President Donald Trump are in full agreement on the NAFTA trade pact’s problems and believes that Trump will support any final modernization deal that he negotiates.

After closing out five days of talks in Mexico City, Lighthizer said that he considers Trump’s views in every decision he makes in negotiations over the North American Free Trade Agreement.

“I expect when I finish this agreement, that the president will be supportive of it because I‘m not going to agree to things that he’s not supportive of,” Lighthizer told reporters in his first formal news briefing since taking office in May.

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NAFTA ministers seen announcing progress on non-controversial topics

09/05/2017 Reuters

NAFTA_logoMEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Trade negotiators from Canada, the United States and Mexico were set on Tuesday to wrap up the second round of talks to modernize the North American Free Trade agreement with a need to demonstrate at least some progress on non-controversial areas.

No major breakthroughs were expected at a joint news conference with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland scheduled for 2:45 p.m. CDT (1945 GMT).

But government officials and lobbyists said they were hoping that the trade ministers would be able to announce a timetable for completing some chapters.

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New Publication | Building on Early Success: Next Steps in U.S.-Mexico Educational Cooperation

By Angela Robertson and Duncan Wood

USA and MexicoLaunched in 2014, the U.S.-Mexico Bilateral Forum on Higher Education, Innovation, and Research (FOBESII) seeks to “expand opportunities for educational exchanges, scientific research partnerships, and cross-border innovation to help both countries develop a 21st century workforce for both our mutual economic prosperity and sustainable social development.” It aims to promote binational cooperation in higher education and research, especially regarding important areas for innovation in the United States and Mexico, by promoting programs for student mobility, academic exchange, research, and innovation in areas of common interest to contribute to the competitiveness of the region.

Cultural and educational exchanges help to create connections between the people and institutions of the United States and Mexico via exchange programs, scholarships, grants, and joint research.  Increasing educational exchanges and strengthening workforce development and innovation, particularly in STEM areas, will allow the United States and Mexico, and North America as a whole, to compete in global markets. Thus, FOBESII has the potential to build a more prosperous future for both the United States and Mexico.

Nonetheless, this short paper argues that, while FOBESII has done much to expand educational exchanges, increase joint research, and promote innovation, it has yet to achieve its stated goals and continues to face serious challenges. We argue that to overcome these challenges, future initiatives must focus on advancing private sector engagement, workforce development, and improving public communication and outreach. FOBESII continues to be a relevant and important initiative, but it is in urgent need of restructuring and redirection if it is to make a significant contribution to bilateral affairs and regional competitiveness.

Read the paper…