Sunday, 20 May, 2018

Officials seek 'wiggle room' in NAFTA talks as U.S. deadline lapses

Nafta Deadline Arrives With Little Prospect for an Agreement No NAFTA deal this week, no NAFTA deal this year, Congress warns
Patty Aguilar | 18 May, 2018, 12:44

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday that the three nations were getting closer to inking an agreement and they had a decent deal on the table on autos during an event at the Economic Club in NY.

Ryan himself told reporters at the U.S. Capitol that Congress can not begin working on the negotiating law known as "fast track" without a trade deal in hand.

As negotiations have plodded on, Canada has sounded a more optimistic tone than Mexico.

Some fear delay will add political unpredictability, since numerous politicians now involved will no longer be in politics next year: Mexico will have a new administration, the US will have a new Congress after midterm elections, and several senior American lawmakers are retiring.

Lighthizer's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

"An terrible lot of things would have to go right in order for this to be voted on in this Congress", said Eric Miller, a Washington-based trade adviser and Woodrow Wilson Center fellow.

On Thursday, though, Ryan told reporters that there might be a window of two more weeks, since it's possible that the U.S. International Trade Commission could take less than its allotted 105 days to issue an analysis of the impact of the agreement.

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Congress and the European Parliament", - stated the co-Chairman of the faction "Greens - Free Alliance of Europe", Philippe Lamberts.

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"There's still some tough issues, but do we really want to kick this down the road and miss the opportunity to do a lot of the good work?", MacNaughton said. "This isn't my arbitrary deadline". "They're ongoing now and we're pushing forward and hopeful that we can get something done soon", said Sanders.

Adam Austen, Press Secretary for Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, said in a media statement that "the process of congressional ratification is internal to the US", not a matter for Canada.

The failure to complete the deal would be a political setback for President Trump, who has repeatedly vowed to scrap NAFTA and replace it with something better.

In Mexico, officials on Thursday downplayed the importance of Ryan's deadline.

Even if the parties wanted to seal something quickly, there would have to be a breakthrough on multiple fronts.

"The state of play is uncertainty", said Maryscott Greenwood, chief executive officer of the Canadian American Business Council in Washington, which represents firms in both countries.

In light of the current and potential future storm clouds surrounding NAFTA, Canada at least has begun to turn its eye elsewhere for trusted trading partners, having recently signed the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with the European Union - which eliminates 99% of tariffs on full implementation - and now reviving the scuppered Trans-Pacific Partnership, this time without the United States but nonetheless comprising 11 Pacific Rim countries (including Mexico) which together account for 14% of the global economy.

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