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NAFTA Ministers Fail to Finalize Agreement as Crucial Deadline Passes

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

(North American Meat Institute)

Trade ministers from the U.S., Canada and Mexico failed to reach a deal on a modernized North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) ahead of a May 17 deadline imposed by U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI). Ryan said he would need to be notified about an updated NAFTA by May 17 to allow Congress to vote on the deal before new members are sworn in after the 2018 midterm elections later this year.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, in a statement last week, said the NAFTA countries are “nowhere near close to a deal,” but vowed to continue to engage in negotiations to reach a final agreement. Lighthizer noted key differences remain on intellectual property, agricultural market access, de minimis levels, energy, labor, rules of origin and geographical indications, among other issues. In addition, Canada and Mexico oppose U.S. demands for a sunset clause that would allow NAFTA to expire if it is not renegotiated every five years.

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