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Mexico says talks with USA will cover outstanding NAFTA issues

07 August 2018

Some observers have warned that Canada was sidelined from the negotiations and could be put in a position where it might have to accept a deal reached between the USA and Mexico.

Mexico's Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said on Friday there were "very good probabilities" Mexico and the United States would resolve key issues in NAFTA trade talks next week, adding that Canada would likely soon rejoin the negotiations.

Media outlets reported Friday that Guajardo predicted there was a very good chance the USA and Mexico could sort out their bilateral NAFTA differences next week. But he was upbeat about the group's progress.

Talks among Mexico, the United States and Canada to modernize the 1994 trade pact have dragged on since a year ago, after U.S. President Donald Trump said he wanted a better deal for U.S. business and workers.

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Guajardo and other Mexican officials returned to Washington this week for another of bilateral talks with the United States. After seven sessions, they paused mid-June ahead of the Mexican presidential election on July 1. "It is something we have to discuss and the time has come", he said.

Talks to bring NAFTA up to date began in August 2017, at the request of Trump, who has branded it a "terrible deal".

Guajardo said top USA and Mexican officials could meet again on Wednesday or Thursday.

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Jesus Seade, the chief NAFTA negotiator for Mexico's President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, said Thursday's meeting would cover "A to the Z and everything in between".

MacNaughton was closely following NAFTA talks in Washington on Friday between U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo, whose governments have both expressed optimism a deal could be hammered out this month.

They insisted Canada had to be involved in a final deal - although they also said they've already resolved several NAFTA chapters alone with the States - but no one could say if Canadians would show up next week.

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Mexico says talks with USA will cover outstanding NAFTA issues