NAFTA’s Fifth Round of Talks

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On Tuesday, negotiators from the United States, Mexico and Canada will partake in the last round of talks to revise the North American Free Trade Agreement, with a standstill developing on the proposal to increase regional content for autos.

Officials stated that Mexico and Canada will assertively go against the U.S. demand to increase the minimum level for NAFTA autos from 62.5 percent to 85 percent and maintain that half the content is from the United States.

The proposal is a large part of President Donald Trump’s America First strategy to restore manufacturing jobs in the U.S. Mexican and Canadian officials are seeking clarification from the U.S. how the plan would thrive and have specified there is no intention of responding with a counterproposal.

Tuesday marks the seventh day negotiators met during this Mexico round and officials are optimistic on making announcements to bring some momentum into the process. This round has been less argumentative than the talks in Washington in October, when the U.S. presented a series of demands which included the auto plan, said Caroline Freund, a trade expert in Washington.

“With U.S. tax reform front and center, the U.S. government really didn’t want to make this a big round, and (wanted) to let the technocrats get on and do the negotiating on the less controversial bits,” Freund said.

Hopes for any major progressions during the fifth round had diminished when the three parties announced that the ministers in charge of the NAFTA trade portfolio would not be attending the talks. The clock continues to tick as progress remains uncertain. The three parties have all agreed to continue negotiations through the end of March, when the campaign for the 2018 Mexican presidential election will commence. Negotiators are weary for the NAFTA renovation to become politicized in the Mexican election campaign.


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