NAFTA: Talks continue through weekend in scramble to get a deal soon

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WASHINGTON — NAFTA negotiating teams will keep bargaining through the weekend in an effort to get a deal by early May.

The political ministers leading the process are currently leaving Washington, but will be back next week.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland calls it a perpetual negotiating round.

She says the talks continue to focus primarily on automobiles, which she describes as the heart of the new agreement.

Sources say negotiators are now extremely close to an agreement on that issue and are discussing fine details.

However, Mexico’s Ildefonso Guajardo says a new NAFTA will be about more than cars and that negotiators are well advanced in adjustments to telecommunications, energy and digital trade rules.

One great unknown is how this new agreement would be introduced: People close to the discussions say the Trump administration is considering cancelling the existing NAFTA, to put pressure on its own country’s lawmakers to pass the new one before the midterm elections create a new Congress.

The Canadian Press