Many major issues are still hampering the progress of North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations, but Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau and US President Trump are keen to wrap things up.
As North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) deadlines loom, US President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau discussed on Monday (May 14) the feasibility of closing a deal on the agreement sooner rather than later.
There has been a great deal of uncertainty surrounding NAFTA as many major issues between Canada, Mexico and the US still sit unresolved. However, the clock is quickly winding down — this week is considered the unofficial deadline for wrapping up NAFTA before 2019.
With both Mexico and the US preparing for elections later this year, the process will likely be pushed to next year if an agreement isn’t met soon. Additional heat came when US House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan said lawmakers will need to have an agreement drafted by Thursday (May 17) in order for US Congress to meet procedural deadlines for a 2018 vote.
A statement from Trudeau’s office released Monday confirmed that he has spoken with Trump about “the possibility of bringing the negotiations to a prompt conclusion.” The White House corroborated the conversation with a statement saying that Trump has “underscored the importance of quickly concluding an agreement.”
Despite those comments, officials close to the situation are uncertain about the feasibility of closing such a multifaceted deal so quickly. Trump’s commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, has acknowledged that many major issues are still unresolved.
“I don’t believe that any of the big hot topics [were resolved],” Ross said.
“The rules of origin, the [five-year] sunset provision, the dispute resolution provision, labour — big topics like that — are still a work in progress. Those are very complex issues — particularly rules of origin. So it eventually will come down to every comma, every semi-colon,” he added.
As the outcome of hot-button issues and NAFTA as a whole remain up in the air, concern surrounding impending steel and aluminum tariffs lingers in the background. Scheduled to hit Mexico and Canada on June 1, Ross stayed tight lipped about what will happen next.
“You’ll be the first to know on June 1 … Or maybe a little before.”
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Securities Disclosure: I, Olivia Da Silva, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.