Saturday, 21 July, 2018

US Cites Nafta Progress But Rejects Canadian Proposals

US Cites Nafta Progress But Rejects Canadian Proposals US Cites Nafta Progress But Rejects Canadian Proposals
Melinda Barton | 29 January, 2018, 23:53

They've been watching a sixth round of NAFTA talks take place in Montreal this week at a crucial time for Canada's beef industry when it comes to trade, with some vaguely positive noises coming out of the talks.

"From trying to evaluate his words today, I would say he (Lighthizer) recognizes there's a great deal of work to be done, but he's hopeful", said Reichert, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee's subcommittee on trade.

The United States is open to the idea of extending the NAFTA talks, Reichert indicated after a briefing from Lighthizer in Montreal. He said there is "huge support" for the idea in Congress.

The sixth round of renegotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement concluded in Montreal on January 29.

But Lighthizer criticized Canadian proposals to meet U.

Lighthizer, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo met privately in Montreal on Monday morning before making a joint appearance before the press.

Lighthizer flatly rejected a Canadian compromise proposal on the auto industry, saying it would lead to less regional content rather than more, and blasted Canada for a recent complaint to the World Trade Organization over USA trade remedies.

Negotiators from Canada, the United States and Mexico bore down on key issues in weeklong talks in Montreal, averting a feared collapse of the bloc, which binds together almost 500 million consumers.

But overall, he said the latest round of NAFTA negotiations have made progress, although Canada, the USA and Mexico owe it to their citizens to pick up the pace of the talks.

The talks are aimed at overhauling the 24-year old NAFTA accord, which Trump has blasted as "a bad joke" and repeatedly threatened to quit. Optimism surfaced following Canada's series of proposed compromises to address the demands of the U.S. Progress also has been reported in less controversial areas, such as electronic commerce, which was only in its infancy when the treaty was written. He called a Canadian proposal on services trade a poison pill, blasted Canada's global trade complaint, and demanded a rebalancing of the trade deficit in goods.

Jerry Dias, leader of Canada's Unifor labor union, met Verheul on Thursday for talks on the autos issue and told reporters "there is some understanding from the us team it may be a proper track to start to break some of the log jams".

One focus of last week's sessions were the "rules of origin" that determine which vehicles are allowed to move duty-free among the three countries.

The three sides are still far apart over US demands to boost regional auto content requirements and require 50 percent USA content in North American-built vehicles. The U.S. wants to increase that to 85 percent and establish a separate requirement that 50 percent of the parts come from American plants. "We will engage both Mexico and Canada urgently, and we will go where these negotiations take us".

A dismissive Canadian rejoinder to the US plan left Lighthizer irritated.

Another area that's important to many producers now is easy access to US -based livestock data. But after appearing to teeter on the abyss, the talks appear to have settled into a traditional negotiating pattern of give-and-take.

However, that's not what Trump is planning, according to a Bloomberg report, citing "people familiar with the administration's plans".