Nation & World

NAFTA ministers set to meet again

Push for deal has intensified

Bloomberg

Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s minister for foreign affairs, said Friday NAFTA negotiators have been making good progress on updated rules for cars.
Bloomberg Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s minister for foreign affairs, said Friday NAFTA negotiators have been making good progress on updated rules for cars.

Senior trade officials from the United States, Canada and Mexico will meet again in Washington, D.C., in an intensified push to reach a North American Free Trade Agreement agreement in the next few weeks.

Talks will pick up on Tuesday, after Cabinet-level members vowed on Friday to keep up the momentum following consultations with their technical teams over the weekend.

Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said last week that after seven months of discussions, the three sides have entered a concentrated phase where “my negotiating team is practically living in Washington.” Still, major differences remain over key U.S. demands.

Mexico scored a separate commercial victory over the weekend with a deal in principle to update a 17-year-old free-trade agreement with the European Union. Guajardo jetted to Brussels to help close the deal.

Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s minister for foreign affairs, said Friday that North American Free Trade Agreement negotiators have been making good progress on updated rules for cars, which she said will be at the heart of any eventual updated NAFTA.

“We have had some very energetic and productive conversations,” Freeland told reporters on the steps of the U.S. Trade Representative’s office following meetings with her counterparts. “We are certainly in a more intense period of negotiations, and we are making good progress.”

This week’s talks are set to be the broadest and biggest since the final official negotiating round in Mexico City in early March, according to a preliminary agenda obtained by Bloomberg.

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Topics include automotive rules, agriculture, and legal and institutional matters such as dispute settlement mechanisms.

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