POST TIME: 2 September, 2018 00:00 00 AM
US presses ahead with Mexico trade pact

US presses ahead with Mexico trade pact

The United States is pressing ahead with a free trade pact with Mexico, but whether Canada will join depends on a new round of talks next week, after negotiations ended Friday without an agreement, reports AFP from Washington.

Officials had appeared to be on track to reach a deal that would rewrite the North American Free Trade Agreement, but in a bizarre twist, inflammatory comments from President Donald Trump angered Canadian officials and threatened to upend the talks.

The US and Mexico announced a breakthrough accord on Monday, potentially leaving Canada out in the cold if no deal is reached, but Ottawa’s foreign minister insisted that a “win-win-win” agreement is within reach.

US and Canadian officials said talks will resume on Wednesday, but the White House already notified Congress Friday of its “intent to sign a trade agreement with Mexico—and Canada, if it is willing -- 90 days from now.”

The White House now has 30 days before it must present the full text of the new agreement to Congress, which will give Ottawa and Washington time to iron out remaining differences.

“We know that a win-win-win agreement is within reach,” Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters after a week of talks to rewrite the 25-year-old NAFTA.

“With good will and flexibility on all sides, I know we can get there.”

However, she repeated that Canada will only sign an agreement that is in its national interest.

“We’ll keep talking until we reach a good deal,” Freeland said.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said the negotiations over the past four days were “constructive, and we made progress.

“Our officials are continuing to work toward agreement. The USTR team will meet with Minister Freeland and her colleagues Wednesday of next week,” he said in a statement.

Lighthizer stressed that the new agreement will have “huge benefits for our workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses.”