Trump suggests US close to 'big' trade agreement with Mexico

27 August, 2018, 22:49 | Author: Rachel Logan
  • The Mexican peso is jumping on hope for NAFTA progress

Shortly after Trump's tweet, the incoming chief trade negotiator for Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, Jesus Seade, said the United States has softened its position on the "sunset clause" in NAFTA.

The U.S. and Mexico in recent weeks had largely focused on auto manufacturing, as the Trump administration pushes for a deal aimed at boosting factory jobs in the United States.

On Friday, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said Mexico and the United States need to resolve complicated bilateral issues before modernization of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) can move forward.

Seade also predicted that the nations will agree on a method to update Nafta without the threat of a so-called "sunset clause", an automatic expiration after five years - as the USA has sought since October. Politicians from all the three sides have repeatedly called for the agreement to be modernized, as e-commerce and digital services have largely re-shaped the trade patterns that were in place at the time the deal was signed.

"There is a very short window to close this deal and claim victory, and it's an important political priority for the president", he said. A representative of the U.S. trade representative did not respond to a request for comment.

A major trade agreement with Mexico may be coming soon, the US president announced. "Some really good people within both the old and new government, and all working closely together".

Still, the Trump administration has been seeking to impose a cap on Mexican vehicle and SUV exports to the United States that could be sent duty-free or at a 2.5 percent tariff, complicating the auto talks, three people with knowledge of the matter said.

Both Mexican and Canadian officials have also balked at a US proposal for a "sunset" provision that could end the trade pact after five years, arguing that such a clause could send the wrong message to investors seeking long-term commitments.

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"I think it was just a negotiating reality, but there's no question in my mind that it was created to impose maximum leverage - as any negotiator would", said Ujczo, who works for the law firm Dickinson Wright. "Mexico and the US don't appear to have reached any agreement on the idea to exempt some industries but not others".

A contentious proposal by the United States-which would require the almost 25-year-old trade pact be reauthorized every five years-is one that must include all three partners, Guajardo said.

Talks ground to a halt in May, in part due to the July 1 presidential elections in Mexico.

Earlier this week Trump said about Lopez Obrador: "I think he's going to be terrific".

The team of leftist Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has resisted enshrining the 2013-14 opening of the oil and gas sector enacted by the now outgoing President Enrique Pena Nieto in the new NAFTA, people with direct knowledge on the matter said.

Trump hinted that a deal was near in a Saturday morning tweet.

Lopez Obrador opposed Pena Nieto's energy reform, and the issue is divisive within his own camp. Mexico's current government, which is overseeing negotiations until Obrador takes office December 1, has already agreed to such a chapter.

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