Trudeau sees high chance of NAFTA deal with US

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau signalled Thursday he saw a strong chance of reaching a deal with the USA and Mexico to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

“We have a high chance of reaching a win-win-win deal for Canada, the United States and Mexico. With the pressures of the elections in Mexico, and the US elections, if we could announce something at the Summit of the Americas, that would be great,” Trudeau told reporters in reference to the April 13-14 gathering of regional leaders in Peru.

Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland headed to Washington to meet with her counterpart, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who Wednesday met with Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo, to try to reach an agreement in principle on NAFTA.

Freeland said negotiators in seven rounds of talks since last August had made “some good progress” in overhauling the 24-year-old trade pact. But several stumbling blocks remain to be resolved, particularly Washington’s proposals on rules of origin for auto manufacturing, a “sunset clause” for the agreement and a dispute resolution mechanism.

Under the current agreement, 62.5 per cent of the content of a vehicle must be produced within the NAFTA countries to move duty-free across borders. Washington wants to bump this requirement up to 85 per cent, with 50 per cent of US origin — a proposal that Ottawa and Mexico City have rejected.

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