MEXICO CITY – Mexico on Tuesday hailed the “successful” end of the second round of NAFTA negotiations, which concluded in this capital, and announced progress on several issues, although the talks have not come to fruition as yet.
Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said that there had been “important progress in several areas and the parties hope to advance even more,” speaking publicly after the end of the latest round of talks to renegotiate the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement demanded by US President Donald Trump, who claims that the pact has been harmful to his country’s interests.
The negotiating teams from Mexico, Canada and the US worked for five days discussing the treaty, which has been in force since 1994, and it is expected that the pact will be completely revamped before the middle of next year, when Mexico holds its presidential election.
Guajardo said, with Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and US Foreign Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer at his side, that the round of talks had concluded “successfully.”
“During the course of these five days, more than 20 working groups comprised of trade experts and technical officials, ... moved forward in discussions and the exchange of information and proposals,” Guajardo said.
He emphasized that the negotiating teams will continue working during the upcoming rounds of talks and that there is a willingness among the parties to ensure that the discussions are undertaken in an “accelerated and comprehensive” way.
The Mexican official said that the second round focused on fleshing out a unified proposal that can be discussed and approved at the next meeting, which will take place in Ottawa, Canada, on Sept. 23-27.
“We’re committed to a process in which we can accommodate the interests of these countries, to have an agreement that will be a victory for the three nations,” he added.
At an earlier press conference, Guajardo said that there are issues on which, by their nature, the talks have moved more quickly, such as cooperation on small and mid-sized businesses, as well as on facilitation of trade.
“First, we have to adjust the more concrete agreements and then the more complicated ones,” he remarked.
Guajardo said that thorny matters, such as rules of origin and the trade deficit, still have not been put on the table by the US, who is the party most interested in restructuring the pact.