Ag Today January 22, 2018

Canada and Mexico Seek to Head Off U.S. Exit From Nafta at Montreal Talks

OTTAWA—Canadian and Mexican trade officials in Montreal on Sunday began laying out proposals aimed at convincing their U.S. counterparts not to put an end to the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Delegations from Canada and Mexico will present an array of responses to some of the Trump administration’s most hard-line demands for changing the trade pact, in what many observers believe could be a make-or-break round of talks. Negotiators’ initial focus will be on Washington’s demands for increased U.S.-made content for cars made in North America.

The goal in the Montreal talks, according to Canadian and Mexican officials and people briefed on the matter, is to make enough progress that U.S. President Donald Trump won’t be tempted to pull the plug on negotiations. If they don’t, “the Americans will conclude the Nafta talks are pointless,” said Sarah Goldfeder, a former U.S. diplomat once posted in Mexico and Canada who is now principal at Ottawa-based Earnscliffe Strategy Group.

Since August, the three countries have been locked in negotiations to renegotiate the 24-year-old trade pact, after Trump called it the “worst trade deal ever made” and threatened to pull out if sweeping changes weren’t made.

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