Negotiators blow past NAFTA deadline but plan to resume talks
- No party to the talks to renegotiate NAFTA has announced a new deal, meaning talks will continue well past the Congressional deadline of May 17 set by House Speaker Paul Ryan last week.
- The news hardly comes as a surprise. Top-level ministers went home without a promise to come back last week, pending further breakthroughs from their technical teams, according to Mexico's Ministry of the Economy.
- Ryan said Thursday there is still a chance Congress can vote on it, if a deal is reached within a few weeks and the International Trade Commission expedites its review process by a few weeks, too, Bloomberg reports.
As U.S. stakeholders hold their breath for a miracle deal, abetted by a speech by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Thursday, Mexican negotiators are already planning for a set of new variables that may come after the country's July 1 presidential election.
"If negotiations continue and a NAFTA deal is not settled before the elections, what we will do is work to begin contact with the transition team of whomever has won Mexico's presidency," Kenneth Smith Ramos, the country's chief negotiator, said in Spanish to one of the leading radio stations in Mexico this week.
Meanwhile, Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo dispelled Trudeau's claim Mexico had put a deal on the table that would bring auto jobs back to the U.S. The minister had not tweeted since April 24.
The interactions — and lack of public statements — in the run up to the May 17 deadline indicate negotiators have all but given up on reaching a deal on any timeline, and are instead working on finding a suitable deal. It may still be a long road ahead before NAFTA 2.0 is unveiled.
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