U.S. trade representative says he's 'surprised' as Nafta talks pushed into 2018

Trevor Jackson
October 18, 2017

The three countries wanted to renegotiate the deal before the end of the year.

"I'm surprised and disappointed by the resistance to change from our negotiating partners", Lighthizer said with Guajardo to his left and Freeland to his right.

Trump has threatened to terminate the trade agreement if Canada and Mexico do not agree to his demands. Canada and Mexico won't stand for it.

This year's NAFTA re-negotiations stem from U.S. President Donald Trump's insistence that the agreement be remodeled lest the U.S. leave the deal entirely.

Canadian and Mexican officials rejected some US proposals introduced during the latest round, according to one government source from each country.

"Simply put, we can not afford for the United States to abandon free trade", Hun Quach, the group's head of trade policy, said in an emailed statement. His administration believes that its proposals will protect US businesses, mainly manufacturing, and will decrease the USA trade deficits with Mexico and Canada.

Freeland said new US content requirements would disrupt supply chains for the automobile industry, jeopardizing thousands of jobs.

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"Now I understand that after many years of one-sided benefits, their companies have become reliant on special preferences and not just comparative advantage".

Despite the pessimism, Lighthizer said he expects an eventual agreement to attract both business and labor as well as a healthy majority of congressional Republicans and Democrats, a tall order for any legislation at the moment, nevermind a trade agreement.

Mexican economist and financial analyst Luis Rubio said the greatest danger to Mexico if NAFTA is scrapped is loss of confidence in the nation as a place for investment.

"Even if the national impact is limited, a NAFTA collapse would hit certain U.S. states and industries quite hard", Ashworth said in a note.

All sides remain committed to talks for now: The next round will be in Mexico City starting November 17.

But Lighthizer said that it wasn't a hard target and it was agreed by the negotiators to push into next year.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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