U.S. and Mexico Agree to Preliminary Nafta Deal

U.S. and Mexico Agree to Preliminary Nafta Deal

On Friday, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said that Canada would be “happy” to rejoin the talks once the United States and Mexico had made progress on their specific issues. “Once the bilateral issues get resolved, Canada will be joining the talks to work on both bilateral issues and our trilateral issues,” Ms. Freeland said.

Many of the most significant changes agreed to by Mexico and the United States simply update the pact to take into account the rise of the internet and the digital economy since the agreement was negotiated. But Mr. Trump’s advisers have also pressed for big alterations to the rules governing automobile manufacturing, in an effort to bring more car production back to the United States from Mexico.

[Read more on NAFTA and how Trump might change it.]

To qualify for zero tariffs under Nafta, car companies would be required to manufacture at least 75 percent of an automobile’s value in North America under the new rules, up from 62.5 percent previously. They will also be required to use more local steel, aluminum and auto parts, and have a certain proportion of the car made by workers earning at least $16 an hour, a boon to both the United States and Canada.

Talks in recent days had stumbled over how these rules would overlap with additional auto tariffs that the president has threatened, as well as new measures that would open Mexico’s oil and gas sector to foreign companies, provisions that are controversial within the new elected Mexican administration that is poised to take office in December.

Speaking Sunday, Ildefonso Guajardo, the Mexican economy secretary, said that Jesus Seade, the designated chief negotiator of Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, had worked out an agreement on energy with his American counterparts in recent days.

Both the Mexicans and Americans have been eager to reach a fully revised Nafta deal by the end of August, a date that would give the Trump administration enough time to notify Congress that a deal had been finalized and still have that deal be signed by the outgoing Mexican administration of Enrique Peña Nieto. That goal now looks doubtful, given Canada’s recent absence from the negotiating table.

Still, progress in the negotiations with Mexico will come as a relief to American businesses that depend on trade agreements and have been shaken by Mr. Trump’s confrontational approach to America’s biggest trading partners.

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