USA trade official eyes NAFTA ‘breakthrough,’ while Mexico urges flexibility

USA trade official eyes NAFTA ‘breakthrough,’ while Mexico urges flexibility

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on Thursday had expressed hope for a breakthrough in the coming days.

"I think it tries to send a signal to Canada that we, as the United States, will deal with you separately", Robertson says.

U.S. President Donald Trump is suggesting Canada has deliberately been left on NAFTA's sidelines as one-on-one talks heat up between Washington and Mexico.

Over the last month, the United States has essentially cut out Canada from the trade negotiations in order to focus on working with Mexico on some remaining concerns, such as rules over the auto sector that Canada has already largely agreed to.

Robertson says he thinks the US will eventually work to achieve an agreement between all three countries, because getting the needed approvals through Congress would be far more challenging, otherwise.

"We have everything on the table, there are no preconditions and we'll see at the end how the whole thing falls into place", Guajardo said as Thursday's meetings concluded.

During the cabinet meeting, Donald Trump said he was in "no rush" to conclude the talks, stressing that he wanted to make "the right deal".

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Trump has driven the USA negotiating process, threatening to dump NAFTA if it is not renegotiated in favor of the United States.

And he indicated Canada could rejoin the talks soon.

"Hopefully we will be able to close up no later than the middle of the week the remaining issues and probably there will be space to start the trilateral", Guajardo said a day after the one-year anniversary of the talks' start.

Mexican and US ministers will meet again on Tuesday, Guajardo said, after a sectoral meeting on Monday to discuss financial issues related to government action.

Some auto industry executives have said the United States and Mexico are close to a deal to increase North American automotive content thresholds, with substantial requirements for content produced in high wage areas, namely the United States and Canada.

But Guajardo said, "There are issues that have to be discussed at the trilateral level".

Mexico has not yet engaged with the United States over a "sunset clause" that could kill NAFTA after five years, he added. This would protect the deal from the possibility of opposition if Democrats win control of the legislature.

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