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Trump wants NAFTA deal by next week, say insiders


April 3, 2018  


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The Trump administration is pushing for a preliminary NAFTA deal to announce at a summit in Peru next week, and will host cabinet ministers in Washington to try to achieve a breakthrough, according to three people familiar with the talks.

The White House wants leaders from Canada and Mexico to join in unveiling the broad outlines of an updated pact at the Summit of the Americas that begins April 13, while technical talks to hammer out the finer details and legal text could continue, according to the people who spoke to Bloomberg News under the condition of anonymity.

They asked not to be identified because the talks are private.

The Mexican peso trimmed its losses on news of the meetings, rallying from a session low 18.355 per U.S. dollar toward 18.2.

Canada’s currency also pared its loss to US$1.2913.

The three nations face a challenge to meet the U.S.’s goal because major divisions remain, including on the U.S. proposal for more North American content in automobiles. The White House declined to comment with Bloomberg News on plans to announce an accord for the North American Free Trade Agreement.

America’s eagerness to strike a deal on its biggest trade pact comes as U.S. stocks tumbled, falling in seven of their last 10 trading sessions on concern President Donald Trump’s protectionism could spark a trade war. The White House in the past month has imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, and announced plans to slap duties on Chinese goods over alleged intellectual-property violations.

Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo will travel to Washington for meetings with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer tomorrow, said Bloomberg News sources. Some meetings could also include U.S. presidential adviser Jared Kushner and Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray, who have been managing the relationship between Trump and his Mexican counterpart, Enrique Pena Nieto, according to two of the people. Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland will arrive Thursday for her own meetings with Lighthizer, and meetings on Friday may include all three countries, those same Bloomberg News sources confirmed.

NAFTA negotiators are working under some political calendar pressure, with elections in Mexico in July and the U.S. in November threatening to complicate the process of reaching a deal and getting it approved by the nations’ lawmakers. Guajardo said last month that negotiations between the countries would need to be concluded before the end of April in order for the agreement to go before the current Mexican Senate and U.S. Congress.

 

(Bloomberg News)