Fourth NAFTA round “challenging”, says Guajardo

The fourth round of talks will deal with “core subjects” said the Mexican Secretary of Economy
Ildefonso Guajardo, Mexican Secretary of Economy (left), Chrystia Freeland, Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs (center), & Robert Lighthizer, U.S. Trade Representative – Photo: Chris Wattie/REUTERS
28/09/2017
16:00
Ivette Saldaña / Miguel Pallares - enviado
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The fourth round of the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) will be “challenging” and will deal with “core” subjects, anticipated the Mexican Secretary of Economy, Ildefonso Guajardo. 

After the official closing of the third round of talks in the Canadian capital – held between September 23 and 27 –, the Secretary said during a press conference that “the pace [of the negotiation] is so fast they will be dealing with “core” subjects, so the fourth round will be challenging.”

Overtly referring to the issues where there is currently a disagreement, Guajardo has cautioned the fourth round – to be held in Washington D.C. – will touch on the first proposals for rules of origin for the automotive sector, in addition to the positioning of the dispute-resolution mechanism, and the review every five years of the NAFTA.

“Considering the progress we already have on several topics, we already have clear the position on issues such as the rules of origin; that would be my expectation, to see where are the postures of the different parties landing,” said Mr. Guajardo.

On the five-year review of the agreement, Guajardo explained that a “sudden death, that is, automatically terminating the agreement due to a lack of consensus, would be a bad message to send for investment planning.”

According to information gathered by EL UNIVERSAL, the fourth round might take place in Washington D.C. between October 11 to 15.

Starting next round, there will be 28 technical tables, three more than the 25 of the previous ones.

In the joint closing conference of the third round, Ildefonso Guajardo, Chrystia Freeland, Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Robert Lighthizer, U.S. Trade Representative, highlighted the closure of the first chapter regarding small and medium enterprises.

“We've concluded the chapter on small-medium enterprises, which are the motor of economy,” said Lighthizer, adding there has also been progress on e-commerce, State-owned companies, phytosanitary measures, and border issues.

Freeland agreed issues such as telecommunications, digital commerce, and regulatory practices were topics where commitment and progress had been made.

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