Trump’s "new NAFTA" deal with Canada could be relief for developers

Evan Vucci  AP

Evan Vucci AP

The more immediate question, though, is whether Trump really can seal a two-way deal with Mexico and shrug Canada off.

An official told the paper how Trump 'thought talking about sealing the deal in front of reporters would be not just interesting but important for the American people to see'.

All three countries are critical for businesses with supply chains that span the North America. It could also end up being little more than a public relations stunt by an administration desperate to secure a win after more than a year of failures on trade, according to analysts.

"We could have a separate deal [with Canada], or we could put it into this deal", Mr. Trump said today. "This doesn't seem like a well-thought-out plan that leads anywhere sensible".

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said Mexico had agreed to ensure that 75 percent of automotive content be produced within the trade bloc (up from a current 62.5 percent) to receive duty-free benefits and that 40 percent to 45 percent be made by workers earning at least $16 an hour.

News of this deal comes as the United States economy is seeing record low unemployment and rapid growth. But the Americans have abandoned their demand for a "sunset clause", a deal-breaker for Canada that would have required the agreement to expire every five years and be renegotiated.

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Adam Austen, a spokesman for the Canadian Foreign Minister, says Canada had been in regular contact with the NAFTA negotiators.

USA and Mexican negotiators worked over the weekend to narrow their differences. Exports are responsible for more than 30 percent of the new jobs created in the state.

What the USA and Mexico have agreed to is a "review clause" every six years on an agreement that would be renewed every 16 years.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland gestures during a joint news conference on the closing of the seventh round of NAFTA talks in Mexico City, Mexico, March 5, 2018. "So if they had to compromise on energy, so be it". But they do have one thing going for them - Trump needs a win going into the USA midterms, especially after the legal mess in which he's become entangled in the last week.

But Canada is likely to object to revisions in Nafta that include rules that will make it harder for treaty members to challenge USA trade penalties. For another, a Congress that has been divided on trade issues would have to give its final approval.

It's a preliminary deal between the two countries.

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It's also not clear that Mexico has much interest in a bilateral trade deal with the United States that excludes Canada.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto wants to sign the agreement before leaving office at the end of November, and Trudeau faces a national election expected by October 2019. Peña Nieto reiterated on Twitter his desire for a full update of NAFTA, rather than a bilateral trade deal.

"Vehicle costs are going up for other reasons as well - higher transaction prices because of the richer mix of utility vehicles, metal tariffs, more technology content", Krebs said. But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has insisted his government will only sign a deal that's good for Canada.

Even if Canada and the US work out their differences,"Congress has a very tight window to ratify any new trade deal, there is no guarantee that an agreement will be in place by the end of this year", analysts at Moody's Investors Service said in an email. "I think NAFTA has a lot of bad connotations for the United States because it was a rip off". Another is the countries declare they've made progress and continue negotiations.

The Trump administration's Mexico-first approach could also run into problems on Capitol Hill, Levy noted.

But pressed as to whether Mexico is willing to enter a bilateral deal with the United States, a senior White House official on the same call dodged.

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