Time Is Ticking For Trump’s Team On NAFTA Talks


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Vandana Rambaran Political Reporter
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The pressure to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) mounts as the reprieve temporarily exempting Mexico and Canada from paying new tariffs on steel and aluminum comes to an end in just two days, but U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has warned a deal is “nowhere near close.”

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan had initially set May 17 as the deadline to bring NAFTA negotiations to a close, allowing the Republican controlled Congress time to contemplate the new deal before the end of the year, but that goal was not met.

Sources close to the negotiations including key negotiators, trade experts and lawmakers told Reuters in a Monday report that the deal was delayed in part because the U.S. took months to put forth a proposal coupled with President Donald Trump’s demands on Canada and Mexico that the two foreign nations were not willing to bend on.

Less demanding than its original proposal, the U.S. is now wagering that 40 percent of every car be built in areas with higher wages, 75 percent of all parts come from North America and 70 percent of steel be North American as well.

The major points of contention in the deal between the three nations remained America’s push for wage increases in the auto industry, expanding North American content in cars and a stipulation that calls for renegotiation of the deal every five years. (RELATED: Did Trump’s NAFTA Play Just Work Itself Out?) 

Canada and Mexico took equally as long as the U.S. to draw up counter-proposals, a delay they attribute back to the U.S. because they claim they did not have adequate evidence or analysis needed to understand American provisions.

Still, the back and forth blame game leaves all three countries no further along in their negotiations for an updated agreement.

Simultaneously, other trade issues across the globe stretch negotiations thin and take time away from reaching a deal.

Most recently, the Trump administration launched a national security investigation into car and truck imports that could result in new U.S. tariffs on vehicles from Europe, Japan, South Korea, Mexico and Canada, an initiative which steals top trade negotiators and representatives away from ongoing NAFTA talks. (RELATED: Trump Admin Launches Investigation Into Foreign Car Imports That May Have ‘Eroded’ US Industry)

“Sometimes there’s just not enough time to come up with creative solutions” said former U.S. trade negotiator Wendy Cutler.

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