World

Nafta Countries 'Nowhere Near Close to a Deal,' Trump's Negotiator Says

Nafta Countries 'Nowhere Near Close to a Deal,' Trump's Negotiator Says

The forecast had dimmed in recent days with pressure building from Congress to produce a deal this week so lawmakers will have enough time under fast-track rules to ratify an updated NAFTA this year.

That is unlikely to happen, Guajardo indicated, saying there was no date set for the next meeting with his Canadian and U.S. counterparts, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

But Trudeau said that the main reason Canada is holding off on a deal is Lighthizer's push for a five-year sunset clause.

Trump on Thursday lashed out at China and Europe, calling them "spoiled" and casting doubt on the chances of a deal with Beijing even as Chinese negotiators were in Washington for talks.

Lawmakers are facing a deadline on a new North American Free Trade Agreement, but as of Wednesday night, a deal between the U.S., Canada and Mexico seemed out of reach.

Speaking at an event organised by the Economic Club of New York, Trudeau on Thursday said the three countries are close to strike a renegotiated NAFTA and there is "a good deal on the table" right now, Xinhua news agency reported.

The United States declared the NAFTA countries were nowhere close to a deal in a statement Thursday created to douse expectations that an agreement might be just a few minor adjustments away.

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"We are close to a deal", the prime minister said in NY.

"However, I would not rule out at any point, if the participants show the willingness, that we can settle this negotiation at any moment from the close of May onwards, or in June", the minister told Mexican radio.

Since his presidential campaign, Trump has called the Nafta accord, which took effect in 1994, a "horrible" deal for the USA and threatened to withdraw if it could not be renegotiated.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., promotes this year's renewal of the farm bill during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, May 17, 2018.

Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch and a supporter of some of the Trump administration's Nafta demands such as a five-year sunset clause, pushed back against Ryan's deadline. In any case, he said he was ready to keep negotiating: "We'll keep working until they shut off the lights".

The prime minister explained Canada's opposition in real estate terms. This takes into account the practical realities faced by companies and investors, which customarily map out their business strategies with significantly longer timeframes in mind; with the threat of expiry ever present, many claim that investor confidence and commercial certainty would erode beyond fix, with serious knock-on effects for all parties involved.


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