Mexico says working hard with U.S. on new NAFTA auto rules

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Unlike autos, where the US and Mexico have been haggling for months and largely are down to tweaking details, neither side has been willing to make concessions on the sunset clause, which would end the North American Free Trade Agreement automatically after five years unless the nations agree to continue it, according to the people, who asked not to be named discussing private conversations.

Gregg Doud, the chief USA agriculture negotiator, contrasted the Canadian stance with what he suggested was smooth sailing in talks with Mexico, according to agriculture-media coverage of a speech he made this week in MI.

It is unclear why they refused to talk about the almost two-hour meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, though sources say the low-profile Lighthizer has been irritated in the past by impromptu press conferences held by his counterparts after such sessions.

They are expected to turn next to a potentially thornier issue, USA demands for a sunset clause in NAFTA requiring it to be re-approved every five years.

"We go from less complex things to more complex things", he said.

Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo, Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray and Jesus Seade, a representative of the next President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, met Wednesday with Lighthizer in Washington.

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North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations with Mexico are going "as well as we can possibly expect right now". But sources say they are near to agreement on the key USA demands that more of the content of automobiles imported duty-free under NAFTA be made in North America, and by workers earning at least $16 an hour. That would take the pressure off Lopez Obrador and allow him to focus on domestic priorities.

Those requests by the US are meant to counter the administration's view that too much of what's made under NAFTA is out-sourced to low-wage destinations, robbing Americans of good jobs. Mexican newspaper El Economista reported Monday that Mexico has accepted raising the North American content requirement for cars to the 75 percent level within five years.

The press offices of Mexico's Economy Ministry and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer declined to comment. Mexico views the clause as redundant because any of the partners already can withdraw from NAFTA after giving six months' notice.

Canadian officials have said talk of their alleged inflexibility is simply a negotiating or public-relations tactic by the Americans, and that President Donald Trump's chief concern about NAFTA is the large American trade deficit with Mexico.

But there is a big caveat to that agreement, the source said.

The Mexican delegation has said little about the details of their talks with Lighthizer. In exchange, Mexico wants the U.S.to at least water down its demand for a sunset clause, as well as take off the table both its proposal to scrap state-to-state dispute resolution, and to impose tariffs on some Mexican produce. "It's not only in terms of the content per se, but the dynamics and tone of the negotiation". This article is strictly for informational purposes only.

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