The United States and Mexico are expected to simultaneously release the text of their bilateral agreement in principle on Friday as the Trump administration increases pressure on Canada to join its trade partners by signing on to the revamped North American Free Trade Agreement.
Reuters reported Friday that Mexico’s Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo was scheduled to present the text of the Aug. 27 agreement, which aims to rebalance auto trade and modernize parts of NAFTA, to Mexico’s Senate at 7 p.m. EDT.
The text could shed light on many aspects of the closely guarded agreement.
U.S. lawmakers briefed by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on Thursday said they expected the text to largely exclude language related to Canada.
However, the text may include at least a dozen chapters reportedly closed between all three NAFTA partners.
U.S. lawmakers want Canada included in NAFTA
Many on Capitol Hill hope Canada would eventually join in a trilateral trade deal, however it’s unlikely to happen quickly. Several weeks of U.S.-Canada talks in Washington have failed to overcome divisions over dairy trade and how to settle future disputes.
Some U.S. Democratic lawmakers said they could not support a NAFTA deal without Canada.
“Canada is exceptionally important. I think it would be malpractice, both for economic and political reasons, not to have a major agreement with Canada,” said Senator Ron Wyden, the top Democrat on the tax and trade Senate Finance Committee.
“I think leaving Canada out of a new deal amounts to the Trump administration surrendering on fixing NAFTA.” Wyden is from Oregon, a state that trades more with Canada than Mexico.
Canada to join later?
Speaking in New York Tuesday, Lighthizer said that even though the Trump administration is moving towards signature with Mexico, talks with Canada will continue.
“If we can’t get an agreement with Canada, we’re not going to walk away from one with Mexico. It makes no sense,” he said.
As for Canada, “we’ll have to do something separately as soon afterwards as we can,” he told the Concordia Summit. “We’re certainly not going to give up.”
The USTR is required to post text of an agreement 60 days in advance of signing it, meaning this weekend is the deadline. The outgoing Mexican president leaves office on Dec.1.
Missing this window would be “unfair to all the people involved,” Lighthizer said, adding Americans don’t know how negotiations might go with the next Mexican president.
Canada is in no rush to sign a deal, says Trudeau
However, Canada has resisted pressure to join the U.S.-Mexico deal under the proposed deadline of Oct. 1.
Prime Minster Justin Trudeau said Wednesday Canada will not be rushed into a bad trade deal with the United States and Mexico but he remained optimistic it is still possible to strike an accord that is good for all three countries.
“We will keep working as long as it takes to get to the right deal for Canada,” Trudeau told reporters during a press conference on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in New York.
(listen to PM Trudeau’s answer a question from reporter on NAFTA negotiations)Listen
U.S. President Donald Trump mounted the pressure on Canada a few notches on Wednesday, claiming he refused to meet with Trudeau on the sidelines of the UN meetings to discuss the trade deal “because his tariffs are too high and he doesn’t seem to want to move and I’ve told him forget about it.”
“We are very unhappy with the negotiations and the negotiating style of Canada. We don’t like their representative very much,” Trump said at a Wednesday news conference, without specifying who he was talking about.
(listen to President Donald Trump responding to a question about why he did not meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the sidelines of the UN General Assembly)Listen
With files from Reuters