NAFTA replacement deal could be agreed today but don't bet on it

Officials including Canada's Chrystia Freeland are meeting in Mexico City but will the deal get across the line?

NAFTA replacement deal could be agreed today but don't bet on it
Steve Randall

There is growing speculation this morning that the three-way trade agreement between Canada, the United States, and Mexico could be nearing a conclusion.

Bloomberg sources in the US say that the White House plans to sign changes to the USMCA deal Tuesday leading to a vote in the House of Representatives as early as next week.

Officials including US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and presidential adviser Jared Kushner will be in Mexico City to meet with Canada’s deputy prime minister Chrystia Freeland and Mexican officials.

House speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday that negotiators have made “great progress” and noted that urgency in a replacement for NAFTA was “very important”.

Meanwhile, President Trump told reporters that: “I’m hearing a lot of strides have been made over the last 24 hours with unions and with others. I’m hearing very good things. I’m hearing from unions and others that it’s looking good, and I hope they put it up to a vote.”

A key sticking point has been Mexico’s rejection of proposals on car parts and auto-workers labour agreements, but a Canadian aluminium industry body says that it hopes the Canadian government will ensure that any agreement does not allow continued cheap metal to be imported from China.

Freeland cautiously optimistic
Ahead of the talks Tuesday, Canadian deputy PM Chrystia Freeland was cautiously optimistic about the likelihood of a breakthrough.

"The prime minister raised the ratification of the new NAFTA and other trade issues in his meeting last week with the president and we have been working intensively, including many conversations over the weekend and this morning with our American partners, on getting the deal finalized."

The meeting in Mexico City is expected to be at 12pm local time.