Canada and Mexico prepare to return to the NAFTA table
NAFTA negotiations have seemed an uphill battle for Canada from the outset, but Mexico has also faced struggles in dealing with the U.S. administration.
A new president will take over on Dec. 1, and talks were suspended earlier this summer partially in anticipation of that Mexican election.
Canada's ambassador to the United States told The House he expects talks to resume in the coming weeks, but where do things stand for Canada and Mexico?
Guest host David Cochrane asked Dionisio Pérez Jácome, Mexico's ambassador to Canada, about NAFTA.
What was the message of the outgoing Mexican administration — and the incoming one — to the Canadian ministers when they met?
"It was a very productive meeting. The message was very clear in the sense that we want a trilateral agreement and we are working to achieve a trilateral agreement in NAFTA. It really was a very positive meeting between the Canadian representatives and the Mexican president — the Canadian ministers also met with [Andres Manuel] Lopez Obrador, the elected president, and what was reported was that it was also a positive meeting."
Mexican officials were in Washington this week for bilateral talks. Is Mexico committed to a trilateral NAFTA deal?
"This is a trilateral negotiation, it is a trilateral agreement and also it makes sense that it should be a trilateral deal and we are working in that direction. The method in which the process is right now includes some bilateral meetings, we are meeting now with the U.S., but the idea is to aim for a trilateral agreement.
"We believe it is possible to reach one. Mexico was also very clear in saying it's possible to reach an agreement soon, the sooner the better. It would require flexibility certainly ... but it is possible to get it."
We know that Canada has some deal breakers, like the sunset clause. What are Mexico's red lines?
"Progress has been made in an important way in the negotiations so far. Nine chapters have already been agreed on. It has been commented on recently by the negotiators that we are close to finalizing 10 more chapters. Now, of course there are more complex issues [like] the sunset clause, the dispute settlement mechanism, both are also very important for Mexico just as they are for Canada.
"The idea is to work through all of them, but for Mexico it's very important to have a predictability in the business sector so we need certainly to know that the agreement is going to be there and not expire after five years. So it's also a key demand that Mexico is making."
Significant issues have arisen between the U.S. and the two other countries. Where do things stand between Canada and Mexico in these negotiations?
"We are going through one of the best periods in the bilateral relations between Mexico and Canada. I can tell you from a political, from an economic, from an investment point of view, academic, cultural, we are going through a great moment.
"We have permanent communications between Mexican officials and Canadian authorities. We don't have any major problems. All the regular issues, we solve them through the formal process."
Answers have been edited for length and clarity.