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Canada 'Positive' on NAFTA, Mexico Says Deal Possible by End-May

Canada 'Positive' on NAFTA, Mexico Says Deal Possible by End-May

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Thursday that the three nations were getting closer to inking an agreement and they had a decent deal on the table on autos during an event at the Economic Club in NY.

Moreover, presidential elections take place in Mexico in July, and the expected victor, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, is a populist who could take a harder line on NAFTA.

Kind was one of about 35 members of Congress who met with the trade representative.

"We of course will continue to engage in negotiations, and I look forward to working with my counterparts to secure the best possible deal for American farmers, ranchers, workers, and businesses", he said.

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan has said that the Republican-controlled Congress would need to be notified of a new deal by Thursday to give lawmakers a chance to approve it before a newly elected Congress takes over in January.

Ministers hadn't even scheduled their next high-level meeting, negotiating staff weren't in the same country, chats were happening long-distance by phone and video conference, and less than one-third of the agreement's chapters were fully completed. Ottawa-based trade lawyer Peter Clark offered a similar analysis, saying Trudeau might be seeking a limited deal in the belief Canada can obtain concessions by offering a quick deal Trump might see as a political victory but that the policy-minded Lighthizer sees as unsatisfactory.

Ryan, asked Thursday whether there was any wiggle room in the NAFTA approval timeline for Congress, said "the wiggle room would be at the ITC".

"An very bad lot of things would have to go right in order for this to be voted on in this Congress", said Eric Miller, a Washington-based trade adviser and Woodrow Wilson Center fellow.

"The point is, we can't work a bill unless we have an agreement that's in writing that we can work on, and that hasn't occurred yet", Ryan said.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland was due to travel to the USA capital later Thursday for internal meetings and talks with key stakeholders, said a spokesman.

President Donald Trump wants a NAFTA deal done soon.

There's also the looming matter of steel and aluminum tariffs, scheduled to kick in June 1 unless the US extends them. She told reporters Wednesday that May 17 was an "arbitrary" date and that the real deadline for a 2018 vote was "probably around mid-June". The countries remain divided on key issues like auto sector rules, a sunset clause and dispute settlement panels. Delegations from both countries are meeting in Washington this week after discussions stalled in Beijing.

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks to the Economic Club of NY in New York, U.S., May 17, 2018.

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