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NAFTA deal could be reached next week

NAFTA deal could be reached next week

The three participating countries make further progress in negotiations

By Kate Ayers
Staff Writer

Government officials from Canada, Mexico and the United States are inching closer to an updated North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Negotiators met in Washington yesterday and it is possible they could wrap up a deal in the coming days, a Reuters article said yesterday.

While officials are still discussing details, a new NAFTA deal is likely to push automakers to source more parts from North America. This shift has the potential to create more jobs in the continent but it could raise manufacturers’ costs.

Indeed, the auto industry has been a hot topic in recent NAFTA talks.

“Rules of origin for autos are fiendishly complex,” Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s foreign minister, told reporters earlier this week.

“We are very, very focused right now on digging into some of the details, being sure that there are no unintended consequences, being sure we get things right.”

Trump’s negotiators originally proposed that North American-built vehicles should contain 85 per cent of parts from NAFTA countries, which would be an increase from the current 62.5 per cent. In more recent discussions, this value has dropped to 75 per cent, industry officials say.

Dispute-settlement mechanisms are another pivotal issue that needs to be addressed in NAFTA renegotiations.

Robert Lighthizer, the U.S. trade representative, Ildefonso Guarjardo, Mexico’s economy minister, and Freeland are urging for a quick deal to avoid conflicts with Mexico’s presidential election on July 1, the article said. Negotiators say a new accord could be finalized by early May.

But Trump is threatening to tie a review of Mexico’s immigration controls to a NAFTA deal, stirring up uncertainty once again. This discussion would be a new topic, as NAFTA negotiators have not addressed immigration policies.

Overall, though, negotiators are eager to reach an agreement.

 “As soon as there is political will from the American government to go for a final deal, I think we can close” it, Moises Kalach, a lead NAFTA representative for the Mexican private sector, said in the article.

“We’ve had all our (negotiating) teams in Washington for two weeks and we will continue working all this week, the weekend and into next week,” he said.

NAFTA promotes free trade between Canada, Mexico and the U.S. by removing tariffs on goods transported between the two countries, an Ontario Mutuals article said.

The agreement also facilitates international trade for small businesses. It sets equal certification and food quality standards for agri-food products among the three countries.

Ronnie Chua / iStock / Getty Images Plus photo

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