Tuesday, 19 June, 2018

US pushing for NAFTA deal as Thursday deadline approaches

A NAFTA logo is seen during the fifth round of NAFTA talks involving the United States Mexico and Canada in Mexico City Mexico Lighthizer tells lawmakers a 'skinny' NAFTA deal is unlikely, suggests some 'backsliding' in talks
Kenny Thornton | 18 May, 2018, 03:41

Ryan, asked on Thursday whether there was any wiggle room in the NAFTA approval timeline for Congress, said, "The wiggle room would be at the ITC".

Trudeau also expressed optimism Thursday about reaching an agreement, while noting that differences remain.

What's unclear now is how long the negotiations might last: several weeks to be wrapped up by the Mexican election, several months to conclude before the USA midterms, or into a new calendar year.

Under the Trade Promotion Authority statute that would allow a simple yes or no vote on NAFTA, Trump must notify Congress 90 days before he can sign the agreement. "I do not know", he said. "On key issues, if there's been progress I think it should continue".

House Speaker Paul Ryan was adamant when asked whether the procedural rules of US trade law require a text this week in order for there to be a vote by the time the current Congress wraps up in December.

Ryan's comments indicated that the law known as the Trade Promotion Authority provides for "fast-tracking" passage of a trade agreement negotiated by the administration by putting the deal to an up-or-down vote without amendment.

He does criticize the government for taking too long, in his opinion, to engage on the key issue of automobiles; the countries spent last fall scolding one another, before serious back-and-forth began in December and January. But the window to pass it in the current Congress is closing as US attention shifts to other priorities.

Instagram to reveal how much time you're spending in the app
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Canada and Mexico expressed continued resistance Thursday to the US proposal for a so-called sunset clause that would kill NAFTA after five years unless all parties agree to extend it. Trudeau said the idea is still a sticking point, while Guajardo said it was out of the question. "Mexico and Canada clearly have a desire to modernize NAFTA, and it's unclear if the US has a desire to modernize NAFTA on Speaker Ryan's timeline". Quick work by the agency might add a week or two to the deadline, he said.

President Donald Trump is committed to getting a better agreement with Canada and Mexico, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told Fox News.

However, talks still faced the hurdles of US demands for a sunset clause that would allow NAFTA to expire if it is not renegotiated every five years, and the elimination of settlement panels for trade disputes.

"This idea of a five-year sunset clause is absolutely insane", the P.E.I.

"I'll call it as it is: it's a stupid idea". "Your dairy industry problem is yourselves in the United States".

Kirsten Hillman, Canada's deputy ambassador to Washington, spoke earlier at the same event and also questioned the logic of the sunset clause, although she did so in more diplomatic language.

"An terrible lot of things would have to go right in order for this to be voted on in this Congress", said Eric Miller, a Washington-based trade adviser and Woodrow Wilson Center fellow. She said a five-year sunset accomplishes neither.

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