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NAFTA Talks Have Hit a Wall After Mexico and Canada Resist U.S. Demands

The United States, Mexico and Canada failed to resolve any major differences in a fifth round of talks to rework the NAFTA trade deal, drawing a swift complaint from the Trump administration on Tuesday that the lack of progress could doom the process. The three nations have vowed to continue talks on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) through March, but the yawning disagreements on core U.S. demands are piling pressure on negotiators to come up with fixes before Mexico’s 2018 presidential campaign begins in the spring.Mexico and Canada have rejected a U.S. proposal to raise the minimum threshold for autos to 85% North American content from 62.5% as well as require half of vehicle content to come from the United States.The two have also resisted a range of other U.S. demands, including a plan to scrap a key dispute resolution mechanism and proposed curbs on Mexican and Canadian agriculture.Minutes after the three countries issued a short joint statement underlining advances and vowing to continue work on concluding negotiations “as soon as possible,” U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer struck a different tone.“While we have made progress on some of our efforts to modernize NAFTA, I remain concerned about the lack of headway,” he said in a statement. “Thus far, we have seen no evidence that Canada or Mexico are willing to seriously engage on provisions that will lead to a rebalanced agreement. Absent rebalancing, we will not reach a satisfactory result,” Lighthizer added.

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