NAFTA: Deadlock on hard issues as round concludes


MEXICO CITY — A round of NAFTA talks concludes today with all key issues still deadlocked.

Sources say the negotiators made progress on a variety of technical files, nearly concluding some less-controversial chapters like digital trade.

But on hot-button files like autos, dairy and dispute resolution, they cite no real progress.

Different sources from the host country, Mexico, say their negotiators have been aligned with Canada on most of these controversial files; they spent this week-long round delivering presentations explaining how various U.S. positions will hurt all three countries.

The Mexicans especially played hardball on the issue of Buy American: they warned that if the U.S. insists on ramping up protectionism in public procurement, they could do the same and the net result would be more painful for the U.S.

The Mexico City round ends with uncertainty on multiple fronts, including: whether President Donald Trump will try pulling out of NAFTA and what will happen if a deal isn’t done by the end of the current schedule of talks ending in March.

One thing the Mexican sources are adamant about — if Trump starts the NAFTA cancellation process as a bargaining ploy, they will refuse to negotiate under that pressure and would rather let the U.S. withdraw.

The Canadian Press