NAFTA trade ministers to square off over hard-line US demands

(L-R) Mexico's Secretary of Economy Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal, Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland, along with United States Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer gather for a trilateral meeting at Global Affairs on the final day of the third round of the NAFTA renegotiations in Ottawa, Ontario, September 27, 2017.

Lars Hagberg | AFP | Getty Images

(L-R) Mexico’s Secretary of Economy Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland, along with United States Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer gather for a trilateral meeting at Global Affairs on the final day of the third round of the NAFTA renegotiations in Ottawa, Ontario, September 27, 2017.

Trade ministers by the United States, Canada, along with Mexico wrap up a contentious round of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) trade talks on Tuesday marked by aggressive U.S. demands of which have left the future of the 23-year-old free trade pact in doubt.

The proposals to drastically reshape NAFTA to help shrink U.S. trade deficits have cast a pall over the modernization talks, leaving some participants along with analysts wondering how the NAFTA partners can avoid an impasse.

The U.S. demands, previously identified as red lines by its neighbors, include forcing renegotiations every all 5 years, reserving the lion’s share of automotive manufacturing for the United States along with producing the item easier to pursue import barriers against some Canadian along with Mexican goods.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo along with Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland are scheduled to meet along with take stock of the negotiations before issuing statements at a joint event at 3 p.m. (1900 GMT). They later plan to separately brief media.

Lighthizer has made no apologies about his hard negotiating line, which he has said reflects U.S. President Donald Trump’s desire to claw back lost manufacturing jobs along with shrink U.S. goods trade deficits amounting to $64 billion with Mexico along with $11 billion with Canada last year.

Trump has continued his attacks on NAFTA throughout the talks launched in August, repeating his threats to terminate the pact if Mexico along with Canada won’t agree to adjustments.

U.S. negotiators opened a brand new front over the weekend using a proposal of which Canada dismantle its system of protections for the dairy along with poultry sectors, a move of which Ottawa will reject, a source briefed on the matter said on Monday.

U.S. opposition to NAFTA’s dispute resolution mechanisms, plans to restrict outside access to government contracts along with attacks on Canadian dairy along with softwood lumber producers have further stoked the grim mood among trade officials.

While Mexican along with Canadian officials have expressed dismay at the U.S. proposals, they have publicly taken a less confrontational stance, with three more negotiating rounds scheduled through December.

“of which will be what negotiations are like,” Vanessa Rubio, Mexico’s deputy finance minister, said on Saturday.

“There are sectors where you get to a deal quicker, along with in additional sectors where you don’t. although let’s just say we’re inside normal process of a free trade negotiation.”

Canadian along with Mexican officials are loosely allied with U.S. industry, farm along with services lobbying groups who are opposed to the Trump proposals along with stepping up their efforts to persuade administration officials to ease them.

Financial markets have taken notice of the acrimony over the negotiating table. By Monday, Mexico’s peso hit a near all 5-month low with fears growing about the future of the deal underpinning $1.2 trillion in annual trade between the three countries.

Mexico sends nearly 80 percent of its exports to the United States.

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