NAFTA negotiators notch a chapter, set up fourth round of talks for October

NAFTA negotiators notch a chapter, set up fourth round of talks for October
© Getty Images

Top trade negotiators from the U.S., Canada and Mexico said Wednesday they have one chapter of an updated North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in the books.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerThe Trump economy keeps roaring ahead Trump says no discussion of extending deadline in Chinese trade talks McConnell urges GOP senators to call Trump about tariffs MORE, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and Mexican Secretary of the Economy Ildefonso Guajardo said they have completed the chapter on small- and medium-sized enterprises in remarks at the end of the third round of NAFTA talks in Ottawa.

ADVERTISEMENT

Lighthizer called it “very, very important” that the chapter is done.

“These businesses are the engines that drive each of our economies,” Lighthizer said in his closing remarks.

“They represent great ingenuity and hard work, turning businesses into dreams and into reality,” he said.

“They employ millions of our citizens. And, when they look to trade internationally, they first look to trading in North America,” he said.

Lighthizer said that significant progress is being made in other areas, including competition policy, digital trade, state-owned enterprises, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, customs and telecommunications.

“But of course, there is an enormous amount of work to be done, including on some very difficult and contentious issues,” he said.

The United States is remaining focused on ways to reduce its trade deficit within the 23-year-old agreement, he said

“We are committed to a substantial renegotiation that reinvigorates U.S. industry and ensures reciprocal market access for American farmers, ranchers and businesses,” Lighthizer said.

Negotiators have said they would like to complete the new deal by the end of the year but that deadline is considered ambitious even with the added pressure of U.S. and Mexican elections next year.

The fourth round of talks are set for Oct. 11-15 in Washington, D.C.