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Mexico Targeting End of November for NAFTA Deal

Next round of talks expected at the end of the month.

by on Jul.18, 2018

Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said he is targeting the end of November to complete NAFTA negotiations.

After a series of delays, including one for Mexico’s presidential election July 1, the new goal for completing a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement is the end of November, according to Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo.

“If there is room before the end of this administration, we will certainly take advantage of the opportunity to conclude [negotiations],” he said. Mexico’s new president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, takes office Dec. 1.

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Canada, Mexico and the United States have been haggling over the update of a new NAFTA since last August. The deal was expected to be completed by the end of 2017 has endured a series of delays over demands by the Trump administration as well as the aforementioned election.

However, those obstacles seem to have been overcome, according to Guajardo, and he’s pointed to the November target. U.S. officials traveled to Mexico last week looking to meet with the new administration there, hoping to get a better sense of Lopez Obrador’s vision of the future, especially on trade.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is likely to have a negative impact on NAFTA, according to some observers.

(Obrador’s win in Mexico portends NAFTA troubles. Click Here for the story.)

With that visit as the backdrop, Guajardo said last week that his team was working with U.S. trade negotiators, led by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, to meet for more talks at the end of July in Washington.

However, the talks between Trump administration officials last week and the incoming Mexican president may have been designed to prime the pump for a new direction on talks, Jens Nordvig, CEO of Exante Data told CNBC.

(Click Here to see why NAFTA talks are halted — for now.)

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has been talking with Mexico's Guajardo to set up more talks at the end of July.

If things go well with the Obrador meeting, Trump may try to use this new relationship as leverage on Canada to engage in bilateral talks, effectively ending NAFTA, which President Trump criticized during his campaign and on into his term in office.

However, that seems unlikely according to another observer. Juan Carlos Hartasánchez, Albright Stonebridge Group senior director, believes other more pressing concerns push back a NAFTA discussion.

(To see more about Trump’s auto tariff threat triggering backlash, Click Here.)

“It seems that everybody has kind of accepted that they are putting this off to November,” Hartasánchez told CNBC. “What they might try to discuss is whether they can advance in the interim so they are in place to announce an agreement in November.”

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