MEXICO CITY: Mexico’s economy minister said Monday it is highly likely the United States, Canada and Mexico will reach an agreement in principle on a new version of the Nafta trade deal by early May.
“There is a very high probability — 80 per cent,” Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo told Mexican TV network Televisa.
“It will depend a lot on flexibility” on the part of all three countries in the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta), he said.
Negotiators from all three countries have said in recent days they are closing in on a new deal – though the United States poured water on initial reports that there would be a major breakthrough announced at the Summit of the Americas in Lima, Peru this week.
“At this point, we don’t anticipate substantive discussions on Nafta at the summit,” a senior White House official said last week.
However, asked specifically about the odds of signing a preliminary agreement by the first week in May, Guajardo, Mexico’s chief negotiator, said he was optimistic.
He said that signing such an agreement would trigger a 30-day period to sign the final version of the updated Nafta.
The three countries began renegotiating the 1994 accord last August at the initiative of US President Donald Trump, who has called it the worst deal his country ever signed.
Published in Dawn, April 10th, 2018