Mexico says US and Canada could reach NAFTA deal soon

Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said that the US and Canada are making  a "very serious," last-ditch attempt to bridge their differences and sign an updated NAFTA deal in the next 48 hours.


Guajardo, Mexico's top negotiator for "NAFTA 2.0," insisted that even if no 11th-hour US-Canadian deal is reached, a three-way deal would still be possible at some point in the future.

But that would mean "going ahead with a bilateral agreement and then later defining what legal actions we would have to take to maintain the possibility of a three-way deal," he said.

A Canadian government source told AFP that Canada's top negotiator, Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, "is in constant communication with the Americans, both formally and informally."

The United States and Mexico want to push their deal through their respective legislatures before Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador takes office on December 1.

In the United States, there is a three-month timeframe for doing so -- meaning Congress must have the text of the deal by Sunday.

So, despite the whining, anti-Trump, anti-American rhetoric coming from Canada's hipster Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, it appears that some kind of deal is still possible. The sticking points appear to be Canada's insistence on protections for its dairy industry as well as a demand that Trump not impose auto tariffs on our northern neighbor.

Trump believes that the auto tariffs are a separate issue, but will probably bend if it means bringing Canada on board with NAFTA 2.0. Finessing the dairy issue will be difficult but if both sides really want an agreement, it won't be insurmountable.

There won't be any new provisions in NAFTA 2.0 that give the US an overwhelming advantage, but any improvement - even at the margins - would be welcome. Putting American businesses on a more equal footing to compete is all that can be expected, and given where relations were with Canada just a few months ago, any agreement would be a triumph for the president. 

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