Trade expectations shared at seventh round of Nafta talks
The lead negotiators for Canada, Mexico and the United States spoke at a joint news conference on Monday (March 05) to discuss the latest round talks to renegotiate the NAFTA trade pact even as President Trump’s plan to impose steel and aluminum tariffs threatened to make negotiations even more difficult.
Robert Ligthizer, the top U.S. trade envoy, said that bilateral deals could replace NAFTA if the pact is not renegotiated soon, ramping up pressure on Canada and Mexico.
“We would prefer a three-way tripartite agreement. If that proves impossible, we are prepared to move on a bilateral basis,” Lighthizer said, reading from a statement in Mexico City at the end of a seventh round of talks.
The Mexico City round of NAFTA talks was thrown into disarray after Trump announced a plan last week to impose a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports, arguing they were needed to protect U.S. industries and jobs.
Both Canada and Mexico send more than 75 percent of their goods exports to the United States.
Talks on the $1.2 trillion NAFTA pact are moving slowly, in part because Canada and Mexico are resisting U.S. demands for major changes such as adding a sunset clause, which would lead to the automatic termination of NAFTA if it was not reworked every five years.
Uncertainty over the talks, and the potential for a wider global trade war, are making investors nervous. Trump’s tweet helped push the Canadian dollar down to C$1.2988 to the U.S. dollar, the lowest level since July 7, 2017.