NAFTA talks now expected to drag into next year

October 18, 2017

Multiple news outlets are reporting that even though the U.S. and Mexico stated they aimed to have NAFTA renegotiation talks finished by the end of the year, the three parties involved won’t meet that deadline.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) reported that a “source with direct knowledge of the talks” said that depending on how the negotiations progress, the standard five days per round could stretch to seven, or even 10 days.

The CBC reported that recent demands by the U.S. are at least partially responsible for the talks’ lack of making headway. Those requests include U.S. access to the Canadian dairy market.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is disappointed with the progress that the three countries have made so far, according to Bloomberg Business News.

“New proposals have created challenges and ministers discussed the significant conceptual gaps among the parties,” Lighthizer said, while reading a joint statement at the end of the latest round of talks. “Ministers have called upon all negotiators to explore creative ways to bridge these gaps.”

News site Politico reported that the Canadian and Mexican trade representatives, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and Mexican Secretary of the Economy Ildefonso Guajardo, said they were willing to continue working toward an agreement but that would not be “bullied into adopting what they view as unacceptable U.S. demands.”

This May, Robert Guenther, senior vice president of public policy at the United Fresh Produce Association, sent a letter saying the group looked forward to working with the administration, Congress and with Mexico and Canada to examine effective ways NAFTA could be modernized.

“Trade across the NAFTA countries serves both consumers and deeply connected supply chains, providing significant jobs not only in agriculture but in processing and distribution,” Guenther wrote.

The letter also said the past 25 years of NAFTA has seen important growth in the fruit and vegetable but challenges do exist that NAFTA modernization can “aggressively address.”

The next round of negotiations is scheduled for Nov. 17-21 in Mexico.