Symbolic NAFTA win possible, but hard work is nowhere near done: trade insiders


OTTAWA — Trade insiders say a token win on NAFTA may soon be possible — but the substantive work is nowhere near complete.

Experts say people should temper their expectations following media reports that a preliminary agreement on the North American Free Trade Agreement could be announced as early as next week’s Summit of the Americas in Peru.

U.S. trade lawyer Dan Ujczo says he’s heard a handshake deal could be announced as early as mid-April as a way to calm market movements and political rhetoric surrounding NAFTA, particularly with U.S. and Mexican elections on the horizon.

But he says an agreement-in-principle is the only possible political win at this stage because it will leave the door open for any changes to the deal aimed at addressing complaints during the elections.

Laura Dawson of Washington’s Wilson Center says she’s very skeptical any substantive deal could be announced in the coming weeks because all the hard work is still down the road.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland is expected to travel to Washington later this week for NAFTA discussions that will include a meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

The Canadian Press