Trilateral NAFTA deal to be reached soon: Mexican economy chief
Last Updated: 2018-09-13 10:48 | Xinhua
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Canadian and U.S. negotiators could soon reach a deal that would save the trilateral nature of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Mexico's Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said on Wednesday.

In late August, Mexico and the U.S. separately reached an agreement in principle on an updated version of the 1994 trade deal, but those changes also require Canada's approval.

The ongoing talks between Canada and the U.S. in Washington D.C. have been making progress, Guajardo told reporters on the sidelines of a business forum.

"There are undoubtedly tough issues, but there are now fewer of them, and I would expect them to be resolved over the coming days," Guajardo said.

"I would expect that in the next few days, next week at the latest, there will be a breakthrough," added Guajardo, who heads Mexico's NAFTA negotiating team.

The Canadian team is reviewing the terms Mexico and the U.S. agreed to on Aug. 27.

At the same time, Canadian and U.S. negotiators are looking to reach an agreement on several bilateral issues, including U.S. access to Canada's dairy market.

While Mexico prefers a three-way agreement, it is prepared to enter into a bilateral deal with Washington, the official said.

"We have always maintained that we are very interested in Canada's participation in this process. NAFTA is a trilateral agreement and its trilateral nature is a great asset," Guajardo said.

"If we end up with a scenario we don't foresee, but that we cannot rule out, in which there is no trilateral agreement, Mexico must take the next step, moving towards a bilateral agreement, if necessary," Guajardo added.

A renewed NAFTA must be submitted for legislative approval by Sept. 30, and there should be a 10-day period before that date to organize what will be submitted.

U.S. President Donald Trump informed Congress on Aug. 27 that he intended to sign a free trade agreement with Mexico, and possibly Canada, by Nov. 30.

After President Trump took office, he insisted the deal be renegotiated to secure more favorable terms for U.S. industry and workers, saying the U.S. could pursue bilateral agreements with its two regional trade partners if a trilateral deal is not successful.

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