Major issues still outstanding in NAFTA talks: Mexico

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Mexico City, May 2 (IANS) Mexico’s economy secretary has said here that much remains to be done before negotiations with the US and Canada on updating the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement can be deemed a success.

Among the “very important” matters that remain to be settled are dispute-resolution mechanisms, rules of origin in the automotive sector and rules for agricultural trade, Ildefonso Guajardo told a press conference in Mexico City on Tuesday, Efe news reported.

“We are still at the negotiating table discussing a series of issues that have to be accommodated in a way that is positive for the three countries,” he said. “A negotiation cannot be declared successful until all of its issues are resolved.”

The next round of talks is scheduled for May 7.

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US President Donald Trump took office in 2017 vowing to scrap NAFTA if the accord could not be amended to his satisfaction and the process of revision began last summer.

The original idea was to conclude the negotiations by the end of 2017 to avoid NAFTA’s becoming an issue in this year’s Mexican presidential campaign or the mid-term congressional elections in the US.

But the talks have turned out to be more difficult than expected.

Regarding automotive rules of origin, Guajardo said that he has been meeting with executives from Mexico’s auto sector to draft an alternative to the latest US proposal, which is seen as likely to harm Mexican assembly plants and part-makers.

–IANS

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