US and Mexico cancel plans to publish NAFTA texts

MEXICO CITY: The United States and Mexico abruptly cancelled plans to publish NAFTA texts, sources said, as signs of renewed efforts by Canada and Washington to settle differences raised hopes a breakthrough could be made to keep the deal trilateral.
The decision to hold the texts was made in order to give Canada more time to come on board, one senior source familiar with the talks said. Another source said the United States asked Canada on Thursday to detail its negotiating positions and Canada responded.
Mexico on Friday said the US Trump administration and Canada were making serious efforts to resolve trade policy differences after days of bickering, raising hopes of saving the North American Free Trade Agreement as a trilateral pact.
While details were scant, the apparent progress was enough to prompt Mexico and Washington to abruptly halt a plan to publish text of their own two-way trade deal, to give Canada more time to join.
In Mexico, President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador told reporters that Washington had made a new counter-proposal to Ottawa, adding that he would keep pushing for all three countries be part of NAFTA.
Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said the delivery of the text to the Mexican and US legislatures was delayed due to a “very serious” attempt by Ottawa and Washington to reach a deal.
“In the next 48 hours we will know if we are going to get to a trilateral text or if we are going to have to put forward the text of the bilateral agreement,” Guajardo said in televised remarks to the Mexican Senate.
Guajardo said his US and Canadian counterparts “specifically requested” a delay in publishing the text. The Trump administration had threatened to proceed with a Mexico-only trade pact as US talks with Canada foundered in recent weeks amid deep differences over Canada’s support for its dairy market and a mechanism for settling trade disputes. — Reuters