NAFTA countries to hold high-level talks over pact's future

A New NAFTA Deal Doesn't Seem Close, Despite Deadline

Nafta Deadline Arrives With Little Prospect for an Agreement

U.S. trade chief Robert Lighthizer has expressed some frustration on Thursday, as reported by Reuters, as the US' self-imposed deadline for a deal on NAFTA has slipped by without anybody seeming to care, and the NAFTA renegotiations continue to drag on.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told lawmakers that he wasn't optimistic a Nafta agreement could be completed by Thursday or in the immediate term, two Democratic representatives said on Wednesday. For the auto industry, which has argued against sweeping changes, the failure to reach agreement will likely be met with a sigh of relief although the battle over NAFTA will continue.

The top USA trade official on Thursday poured cold water on the prospect of an imminent breakthrough in talks to rework the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) hours after Canada's prime minister struck a positive note. "They're ongoing now and we're pushing forward and hopeful that we can get something done soon", said Sanders.

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Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch and a supporter of some of the Trump administration's NAFTA demands such as a five-year sunset clause, pushed back against Ryan's deadline.

Guajardo quickly responded on Twitter, congratulating Trudeau for his remarks.

"However, I would not rule out at any point, if the participants show the willingness, that we can settle this negotiation at any moment from the close of May onwards, or in June", the minister told Mexican radio. "We know that those last conversations in any deal are extremely important, so I'm feeling positive about this, but it won't be done until it's done".

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"Any renegotiated NAFTA that implies losses of existing Mexican jobs is unacceptable", Guajardo said on Twitter after congratulating Trudeau for a "great interview".

One of the most contentious issues in talks has been the USA push to tighten the rules of origin, which govern how much regional content a vehicle must have to qualify for NAFTA's duty-free benefits.

A Mexican technical negotiating team is in Washington, but there is no date set for the next NAFTA ministerial meeting with the United States and Canada.

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"There's still some tough issues", MacNaughton said. Ottawa-based trade lawyer Peter Clark offered a similar analysis, saying Trudeau might be seeking a limited deal in the belief Canada can obtain concessions by offering a quick deal Trump might see as a political victory but that the policy-minded Lighthizer sees as unsatisfactory. "But do we really want to kick this down the road and miss the opportunity to pull all that good work together and get something formally done?"

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