August 27, 2018
U.S. and Mexican trade negotiators are close to squaring away bilateral differences on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and will resume talks this morning, says Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo.
Earlier Sunday, Guajardo told reporters the two sides were likely “hours” away from reaching a common position, but in the evening he told Reuters more work still needed to be done, and that talks would start again on Monday.
“We’ve continued making progress,” Guajardo told Reuters.
The Mexico-U.S. discussions have focused on crafting new rules for the automotive industry, which U.S. President Donald Trump has put at the heart of his drive to rework the 24-year-old pact he says has been a “disaster” for American workers.
Canada has sat out the most recent phase of the year-long discussions, and once it rejoined the talks, the three sides would need to work for at least another week, Guajardo said.
Leaving the offices of U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer late on Sunday, Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said Canada would return once bilateral issues were resolved. “But we haven’ve finished this stage yet,” he told Reuters.
The two sides have been gradually nearing agreement on autos, and one source close to the negotiations said at the weekend there was now “little” separating the two.
Industry sources say they are close to agreeing on raising the regional automotive content threshold for tariff-free access under NAFTA to around 75 per cent from 62.5 per cent.
Still, the Trump administration has been seeking to impose a cap on Mexican car and SUV exports to the United States that could be sent duty-free or at a 2.5 per cent tariff, complicating the auto talks, three people with knowledge of the matter said.