Published On: Sun, Aug 5th, 2018

US focuses on Mexico and freezes out Canada amid NAFTA talks

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Canada has been rejected from the recent talks on the modernization of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with the US trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, amid the talks held by the US and Mexico, said three people close to the negotiations.

The Canadian negotiating team, led by Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, explained that Lighthizer is focusing on negotiations with Mexico and that he is not interested in engaging with Canada at this time, according to sources who asked not to be named since the information is private. The situation was first reported by the National Post newspaper.

While Mexico and Canada have repeatedly emphasized the need to maintain the agreement between the three countries, negotiating with Mexico and then with Canada is more along the lines of Trump’s preference for bilateral agreements.

While Trump has mentioned in the last year how difficult Canada and Mexico have been since negotiations began in August last year, he has had more positive things to say about Mexico recently.

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Although the three nations remain far apart on a few major points, Trump said earlier this month he’s heading toward a “dramatic” deal with Mexico and that he may prioritize a bilateral deal with America’s southern neighbor over Canada. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Monday negotiations with Mexico are going well and may be close to wrapping up.

Lighthizer told a U.S. Senate committee last week that the U.S. is in the closing stages of finishing a new NAFTA deal with Mexico next month, and said that would spark Canada to sign on to the agreement.

Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo will be in Washington for more meetings with Lighthizer on Thursday and Friday following up on a trip last week. Freeland traveled to Mexico July 25 but hasn’t met with Lighthizer since mid-June. She’s due to be in Singapore this week for annual Association of Southeast Asian Nations meetings, according to a statement from her office. Lawrence said the trip has been “long planned and is an important part of Canada’s focus on deepening ties with our Asian trade and security partners.”

Source: http://www.mexiconewsnetwork.com



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