Mexico and Canada slam United States as NAFTA talks are pushed into 2018

Frederick Owens
October 18, 2017

"Frankly, I am surprised and disappointed by the resistance to change by our negotiating partners on both fronts", Lighthizer said.

The North American Free Trade talks (NAFTA) are going badly and it increasingly looks like the US side is trying to sabotage them on orders of the protectionist president Donald Trump.

This year's NAFTA re-negotiations stem from U.S. President Donald Trump's insistence that the agreement be remodeled lest the U.S. leave the deal entirely.

Canadian and Mexican officials rejected some US proposals introduced during the latest round, according to one government source from each country.

Over the past year, Mexico has aggressively pursued new or updated trade deals with other countries, seeking new markets for its exports and new partners for imports. Right now, this right is reserved for Mexico and Canada. "Countries are reluctant to give up unfair advantages".

But belying the expected formal comments and courteous handshakes, observers briefed by trade negotiators said the mood during the latest session of talks had turned grim and pessimistic, and that most everyone expected Canada and Mexico to roundly reject USA efforts to weaken NAFTA's regional structure with US protectionist measures consistent with Trump's "America first" agenda.

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While getting business and labor on board might sound like an impossible task, "the day will come" that will prove it can be done, he said.

Mexican and Canadian officials are set to release a joint statement at 3 p.m. ET on Tuesday, following talks that ended Monday.

Mexico will host the fifth round of talks in November, and additional talks will be held next year.

In the interim, the nations will take stock in the outcome of this latest round of discussions.

"Even if the national impact is limited, a NAFTA collapse would hit certain USA states and industries quite hard", Ashworth said in a note.

But Lighthizer said that it wasn't a hard target and it was agreed by the negotiators to push into next year.

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