Published: Sat, September 01, 2018
Money | By Ethel Goodwin

Mexico says again it will never pay for wall

Mexico says again it will never pay for wall

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday that a deal to re-work the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) may be possible by the U.S.'s Friday deadline, but that he'd rather leave the table than accept a subpar proposal. -Mexican discussions, Canada's team is back in full force in the American capital for the first time since the spring and Freeland says the negotiators are intensively focused on finding new areas of compromise.

"Given the encouraging announcement today of further bilateral progress between the USA and Mexico, Minister Freeland will travel to Washington, D.C., tomorrow to continue negotiations", her spokesman said.

The tone sounded more positive than a Monday news conference at the White House, where Trump called outgoing Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on speakerphone to announce a two-country deal.

Trump said Monday the USA and Mexico had reached a bilateral "understanding" on a trade agreement that could replace the existing North American trade agreement.

The ball is now in Canada's court after the United States and Mexico reached an agreement including a compromise on the controversial auto sector, higher wages for Mexican workers and a provision to review the accord every 6 years.

"I like to call this deal the United States-Mexico Trade Agreement", he said Monday. But in the last five weeks, Washington and Mexico City held talks to resolve their bilateral issues, especially on the auto industry rules, without Ottawa.

Michigan's agricultural industry is also hoping the USA locks up an agreement with Canada.

Trump has repeatedly complained about Canada's high tariffs on imported dairy. "It could end in one day and we take in a lot of money the following day", Trump said.

A senior administration official called the new U.S. -Mexico trade agreement "better in all respects" than "NAFTA 1.0".

"I think it is fair to say we'll do a rebalancing", Lighthizer said.

The new trade deal between the USA and Mexico plans to be in effect for 16 years with a review every six years. The agreement would have given the US and 10 other Pacific Rim countries access to 3.25 per cent of Canada's dairy market. The timeline accommodates a 90-day waiting period under USA trade law before President Donald Trump can sign the pact. I think it's important to note that the Mexicans have been negotiating with the US for over five weeks - a little unrealistic, perhaps, some might say, for Canada to sign on in, you know, four days.

Trump and Republicans in the U.S. Congress up for re-election in November want to ensure farmers and other voters whose jobs depend on trade with Canada and Mexico that the deal is sealed. The same tariffs were applied to Canada - the top foreign source of both metals to the USA - and Trudeau's team will be looking for an exemption as part of any deal. "He's never going to get that from the Congress".

But Lighthizer wants to kill it, a point he repeated Monday, and Mexico doesn't feel strongly.

That said, the Trump administration had pursued the negotiations to update NAFTA with the assumption that Canada would be included.

Other hurdles include intellectual property rights, such as the U.S. -Mexico 10-year data exclusivity for biologic drug makers and extensions of copyright protections to 75 years from 50, all higher thresholds than Canada has previously supported.

While critics said Canada had been frozen out, Freeland has repeatedly stressed that she remained in close touch with her USA and Mexican counterparts throughout the summer and had already achieved "a high-level agreement with the US" on some the pending issues on autos and labor rights.

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