The United States, Canada and Mexico are “committed to an accelerated and comprehensive negotiation process” on upgrading the North American Free Trade Agreement, the three countries announced in a joint statement released Sunday.
The announcement said that a second round of talks will be held in Mexico starting September 1, move to Canada later that month and then return to the U.S. in October, “with additional rounds being planned for the remainder of the year”. No news conference was held at the end of the round, Politico reports.
The fast pace of the talks aims to wrap up the negotiations by the end of the year so that political complications can be avoided with Mexico’s presidential election in the summer of 2018 and the U.S. midterms later in the fall, but it is not clear how realistic the timetable is, since the Trump administration seeks major changes in the two-decade-old agreement, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association’s John Masswohl, who was at the talks to monitor the negotiations, told the Times that it is the U.S. that seeks “more than just tweaking [of NAFTA] — and they want it very fast. You can have it quick or have it meaningful. You can’t have both.”
The Trump administration has said that NAFTA has “fundamentally failed” and blames the agreement for the loss of some American 700,000 jobs. Canadian and Mexican officials, however, have stated their opposition to all of the U.S. proposals for revamping the deal.