US, Mexico reach trade deal to replace NAFTA

WASHINGTON: The United States and Mexico reached a deal on Monday to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and talks with Canada were expected to begin immediately in the hopes of reaching a final agreement by Friday, a senior US trade official said.
“We are now inviting the Canadians in as well and hope that we can reach a fair and successful conclusion with them as well,” the official told Reuters in an interview.
“There are still issues with Canada but I think they could be resolved very quickly,” the official said.
The US-Mexico deal would require 75 per cent of auto content to be made in the United States and Mexico, up from the current level of 62.5 per cent, and would require 40 per cent to 45 per cent of auto content to be made by workers earning at least $16 per hour, a second official said.
President Donald Trump said the deal would be called The United States-Mexico Trade agreement, getting rid of the NAFTA name.
“The name NAFTA has a bad connotation because the United States was hurt very badly by NAFTA,” he said. Trump added that the deal with Mexico is also very special for farmers and manufacturers.
Trump said Mexican officials promised the Latin American country would start buying as farm product as possible from the US.
The negotiations have dragged on for months. Officials had hoped to wrap up last week but that was before the distraction caused by the guilty plea entered on Tuesday by Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, and the guilty verdict handed down against Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort.
Trump called outgoing Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto to congratulate him on the negotiations and their outcome, noting Canada would be able to reincorporate itself to the talks. Canada has remained on the sidelines of trade talks recently while the US aimed at first striking a deal with Mexico.
“Once the bilateral issues get resolved, Canada will be joining the talks to work on both bilateral issues and our trilateral issues,” Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s foreign minister, said on Friday. “And will be happy to do that, once the bilateral US-Mexico issues have been resolved.”
Trump said negotiations with Canada had not started, adding that if Canada wanted to negotiate fairly, the US would do that. — Agencies