Date
17 December 2017
US Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue (C), Canadian Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay (2nd R) and Mexican Agriculture Secretary José Calzada Rovirosa (R) are pictured during a tour of the Port of Savannah in Georgia, US on June 20. Photo: Reuters
US Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue (C), Canadian Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay (2nd R) and Mexican Agriculture Secretary José Calzada Rovirosa (R) are pictured during a tour of the Port of Savannah in Georgia, US on June 20. Photo: Reuters

US, Canada, Mexico said to agree on fast-paced NAFTA talks

US, Mexican and Canadian officials have agreed to an aggressive timetable to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), aiming to conclude the efforts early next year, according to Reuters.

The plan is to hold seven rounds of talks at three-week intervals, the news agency said, citing unidentified sources.

Authorities aim to conclude the talks before Mexico’s 2018 presidential election campaign gets into full swing.

Negotiators fear the renegotiation process could become a political punching bag in Mexico due to President Donald Trump’s repeated swipes at Mexico and as Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador from the leftist MORENA party leads a number of early polls for the Mexico election, the report said.

Trump has pushed for a renegotiation of NAFTA, threatening to dump it if he cannot rework the accord to the benefit of the US. He argues it has fueled a trade deficit with Mexico and cost thousands of US jobs.

The first round of talks to upgrade the accord is due to take place in Washington from Aug. 16-20, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said on Wednesday.

The talks will alternate sites among the three countries and the second round is slated to happen in Mexico, Reuters cited a Mexican source as saying.

However, a US Trade Representative spokesperson said the countries have not all agreed to the number of rounds and the frequency of talks.

US administration officials were quoted as saying that Mexico had asked for the negotiations to be completed by the end of the year before the Mexican presidential election heats up.

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RC

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