Date ArticleType
10/19/2017 Member News
NAFTA Talks to Extend Into 2018 as Partners Express Frustration

NAFTA Talks to Extend Into 2018 as Partners Express Frustration

Thursday, October 19, 2017
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The U.S., Canada, and Mexico are extending their ongoing NAFTA modernization negotiations in an effort to find ways to resolve disagreements on a number of contentious issues. The next round is now planned for Nov. 17-21 in Mexico City and additional rounds will be scheduled through the first quarter of 2018. The three partner countries had been seeking to conclude an updated agreement by the end of 2017 to avoid political difficulties associated with election cycles that will ramp up early next year.

A trilateral statement said the fourth round, which took place Oct. 11-17 outside of Washington, D.C., saw progress in several negotiating groups, including customs and trade facilitation, digital trade, good regulatory practices, and certain sectoral annexes. Substantially all initial text proposals have now been put forward on nearly 30 agreement chapters.

However, the statement acknowledged that new proposals “have created challenges.” These were primarily offered by the U.S. and include increasing the regional content requirements for automobiles, adding a provision to automatically terminate NAFTA every five years unless it is specifically renewed, significantly revamping the dispute settlement system, making it easier to bring trade remedy cases against seasonal fruits and vegetables, and reducing the amount of U.S. government procurement open to NAFTA partners. These proposals highlight “significant conceptual gaps” among the three parties, the statement said, and the longer intersessional period before the fifth found is designed to give negotiators time to “explore creative ways to bridge these gaps” and ensure that an updated NAFTA “provides a solid framework to create jobs, economic growth and opportunity for the people of North America.”

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