The Trump administration is reportedly set to announce an informal deal on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) on Thursday, potentially welcoming Canada to rejoin the pact.
The White House opened its schedule for an announcement Thursday, for which President Donald Trump plans to be in attendance, sources familiar with the negotiations told Politico.
The U.S. and Mexico have been in contact for several weeks in an effort to revamp NAFTA, and Thursday’s announcement is reportedly being called a “handshake” deal by one of those sources.
“We’re even closer” to reaching a trade deal with Mexico after Mexican officials came to Washington for most of last week, Kevin Hassett, an economic advisor for Trump, told CNBC on Monday.
Politico’s sources did warn that plans could change before Thursday, especially in light of the recent charges and guilty pleads involving members of Trump’s inner circle, including his former attorney Michael Cohen and former campaign manager Paul Manafort.
A meeting between U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Mexican Economy Secretary Ildefonso Guajardo is set for Wednesday, and could also change Thursday’s announcement depending on how it goes.
Canadian officials are expected to return to Washington in the future to be part of the discussions, but U.S. officials plan to frame Thursday’s announcement as one that is U.S.-only as opposed to alongside the two partners until a more formal deal is reached.
Sources saying that negotiators plan to pull Canada back into talks comes days after Trump reportedly said he was cutting Canada out of the deal. (RELATED: Trump Cutting Canada Out Of NAFTA Talks ‘Right Now’)
“We’re not negotiating with Canada right now,” Trump said in a televised cabinet meeting Aug. 16.
“Their tariffs are too high, their barriers are too strong, so we’re not even talking to them right now. But we’ll see how that works out. It will only work out to our favor,” he added.
Trump tweeted a similar sentiment on Aug. 10, saying Canada must wait.
Deal with Mexico is coming along nicely. Autoworkers and farmers must be taken care of or there will be no deal. New President of Mexico has been an absolute gentleman. Canada must wait. Their Tariffs and Trade Barriers are far too high. Will tax cars if we can’t make a deal!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 10, 2018
The Office of U.S. Trade Representatives told Politico on Tuesday evening that no official deal had been announced.
So far, the talks have emphasized a deal on auto trade between the U.S. and Mexico, and Trump officials have aimed to boost exports and narrow the trade deficit.
The U.S. has also pushed to implement mandates as part of the deal that would insist a certain percentage of each car be produced by workers who earn at least $16 an hour.
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