Mexico and Canada slam U.S. as NAFTA talks are pushed into 2018

Mexico and Canada slam U.S. as NAFTA talks are pushed into 2018

This latest round of negotiations highlighted the significant gaps remaining among the three North American trading partners.

US opposition to NAFTA's dispute resolution mechanisms, plans to restrict outside access to government contracts and attacks on Canadian dairy and softwood lumber producers are all causing friction behind the scenes, officials say.

Describing some of the demands as "ridiculously extreme", Moises Kalach, head of the global negotiating arm of Mexico's powerful CCE business lobby, said the USA government knew that it would not be able to push them through.

"The Top now has passed Trump administration", Canadian and Mexican representatives said, emphasising fact that United States would not withdraw from negotiating table.

"In certain cases, partners who agree to TPP have actually rejected its text here", he said.

Lighthizer said he thought by now the sides would've agreed to issues including digital trade, telecommunications and anticorruption, and there's no indication of changes that would result in a reduction of the USA trade deficit. Officials from the three countries had hoped to conclude the negotiations by year's end but now expect the talks to continue into 2018.

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A round of talks in Washington that lasted seven days failed to find the most basic common ground between the three parties, and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland accused the United States of pursuing a "winner take all" approach.

"There is no one trade agreement in the world that has country-specific content".

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer accused Mexico and Canada of being unwilling to relinquish unfair advantages that he said broadened the $500 billion US global trade deficit.

While getting business and labor on board might sound like an impossible task, "the day will come" that will prove it can be done, he said.

Mexico will host the fifth round of talks in November, and additional talks will be held next year. It's possible that his administration is trying to sabotage the agreement to justify a withdrawal, said Paul Ashworth, the chief USA economist at Capital Economics.

Negotiators had hoped to complete the agreement before the end of the year - a deadline that ahd already deemed almost impossible to meet - to avoid any interference with next year's elections in the United States and Mexico.

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