Trump Fights for America First as 4th Round of NAFTA Negotiations End
Talks to revise the North American Free Trade Agreement will go into next year amid clashes over how best to change the deal, top officials said Tuesday.
In a joint statement following the fourth round of talks, officials from the U.S., Canada and Mexico said "significant conceptual gaps" will change the negotiating time frame. The countries will schedule more negotiating rounds "through the first quarter of 2018" after new proposals "created challenges," the officials announced.
The three countries wanted to renegotiate the deal before the end of the year. A fifth round of negotiations in Mexico City will be delayed until Nov. 17 so negotiators can consider the proposals.
After the round of talks concluded, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told reporters that the U.S. is not taking active steps to withdraw from NAFTA despite the disagreements. He added that he will consult with President about the next steps.
A joint statement Tuesday from Lighthizer, Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland following a meeting highlighted progress and the desire to reach a deal to rework the agreement.
But individual remarks delivered after the joint statement were decidedly more pessimistic about finding common ground.
"Frankly, I am surprised and disappointed by the resistance to change by our negotiating partners on both fronts," Lighthizer said.
Some proposals put forward would "turn back the clock" and potentially "run counter" to World Trade Organization rules, Freeland said.
Guajardo, for his part, said that in order to reach a "fruitful" agreement, "we must understand that we all have limits."
In the meeting before officials spoke Tuesday, Mexico and Canada put forward during the current round of talks, CNBC reported. The countries plan to push through with negotiations despite the rejections.
In the last week, U.S. negotiators formally proposed that a new deal with Canada and Mexico favor American manufacturing and end after five years if all countries do not renew it. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce called those measures "poison pills," while participants in the talks called them "nonstarters."