MEXICO CITY — U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on Tuesday decried a lack of progress in the North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations, saying he hopes Canada and Mexico will begin to “seriously engage” in key areas so the talks can meaningfully advance before year’s end.
[Brett Fortnam | November 21, 2017 | Inside US Trade]
“While we have made progress on some of our efforts to modernize NAFTA, I remain concerned about the lack of headway,” Lighthizer said in a Nov. 21 statement at the close of the fifth round of talks. “Thus far, we have seen no evidence that Canada or Mexico are willing to seriously engage on provisions that will lead to a rebalanced agreement. Absent rebalancing, we will not reach a satisfactory result.”
A senior U.S. official said “rebalancing” involved U.S. proposals that would encourage more U.S. content in autos by altering the rule of origin, make dispute settlement mechanisms “more effective” and change NAFTA’s investment provisions. These proposals are also aimed at lowering the trade deficit, the official said.
Lighthizer said he hopes Canada and Mexico will engage with the U.S. when the negotiating teams meet in Washington, DC, next month. Ministers will not attend the so-called “mini-round.”
“A rebalanced, updated NAFTA will promote greater prosperity for American workers, farmers, ranchers and businesses and strengthen the North American region as a whole,” Lighthizer said in his statement. “Our teams will be meeting again next month in Washington. I hope our partners will come to the table in a serious way so we can see meaningful progress before the end of the year.”