8/20/2017 LA Times
After the opening round of talks to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement, at least this much is known: The U.S. is pushing for comprehensive changes and racing to meet a tight political calendar.
In a joint statement issued Sunday upon conclusion of the first session, trade officials from the U.S., Canada and Mexico outlined an aggressive schedule for future meetings. They will reconvene Sept. 1-5 in Mexico and then later that month in Canada, to be followed by another round in Washington in October.
The accelerated pace is aimed at wrapping up talks by the end of the year, or early 2018 at the latest, to avoid political complications in Mexico’s presidential vote in the summer and the U.S. midterm elections later in the fall.
But it is far from clear how realistic that timetable is, given the ambitious plans outlined by the Trump administration to rewrite major sections of the 23-year-old pact, including the United States’ much-opposed focus on reducing the country’s trade deficit and strengthening its hand in enforcement.