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Tentative NAFTA deal could be agreed next month

A tentative agreement on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) could be reached as early as next month, according to US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in a congressional testimony yesterday (26 July).

Speaking in Washington, Lighthizer said it's possible NAFTA partners will reach an agreement in August to modernise the 24-year-old trade pact.

"We have been renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement at an unprecedented speed," he said. "Hopefully, we are in the finishing stages of achieving an agreement in principle that will benefit American workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses."

The US, Canada and Mexico have been working to renegotiate and modernise NAFTA since last summer, with the most recent round of talks held in Mexico City in March.

Last month, reports suggested US President Donald Trump was contemplating individual trade agreements with Canada and Mexico. But now Lighthizer suggests a deal may be struck after all, meeting the Mexican objective of having President Enrique Pena Nieto sign a new North American Free Trade Agreement before he leaves office in December.

"You're probably looking at having to have some conclusion during the course of August, and my sense is that that's not an unreasonable time frame if everybody wants to get it done," an article published by Bloomberg quoted Lighthizer as saying in testimony to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

However, the report notes Lighthizer fears Canada may be the sticking point in reaching a new deal.

"My hope is that we will before very long have a conclusion with respect to Mexico and that, as a result of that, Canada will come in and begin to compromise," he reportedly said. "I don't believe that they've compromised in the same way the United States has or Mexico has."

According to Bloomberg, Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo told reporters after Thursday's talks that it would be possible to reach a tentative deal in August.


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