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Sunday, March 3, 2024

Negotiations, now more negotiations



After five full days of meetings by a team of subject matter experts covering more than two dozen different negotiation topics, round one of renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement has come to a conclusion.

According to the Office of the United States Trade Representative “Detailed conceptual presentations were made by the United States, Mexico and Canada across the scope of the agreement, and negotiating groups began work to advance text and agreed to provide additional text, comments or alternate proposals during the next two weeks. The scope and volume of proposals during the first round of the negotiation reflects a commitment from all three countries to an ambitious outcome and reaffirms the importance of updating the rules governing the world’s largest free trade area.”

Representatives from the three countries said they also heard from a wide range of stakeholders, including representatives of the private sector; industry associations; and legislative representatives.

The three North American countries say they plan to continue negotiations at a quick pace. They will reconvene in Mexico for a second round of talks from September 1-5, then move to Canada in late September and return to the United States in October, with additional rounds being planned for the remainder of the year.

According to their joint statement “Canada, Mexico and the United States are committed to an accelerated and comprehensive negotiation process that will upgrade our agreement and establish 21st century standards to the benefit of our citizens.”

However, trade experts have expressed doubt about the quick conclusion of NAFTA talks due to the extensive agenda and contentious issues among the three countries.

“Because the agenda of the negotiations is so extensive, so comprehensive, it will be very difficult for the three countries to come together on agreement on this entire agenda of issues in the next few months,” said Jeffrey Schott, a trade expert and senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a Washington-D.C.-based think tank