Mexican ambassador says NAFTA has 50-50 chance of being terminated

Mexican ambassador says NAFTA has 50-50 chance of being terminated
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Mexico’s ambassador to the United States said Tuesday that there is a 50-50 chance that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) will be terminated.

Gerónimo Gutiérrez said that despite tensions and a cloud of uncertainty hanging over the negotiations among the three trading partners — Mexico, the United States and Canada — he thinks that an updated NAFTA agreement can be reached sometime next year. 

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"In spite of important differences, we're communicating fluently, we're engaging, and that's important," Gutiérrez told CBS News.

"I'm moderately optimistic we can, in fact, reach an agreement in the next few months,” he said.

The United States, Mexico and Canada completed their fifth round of renegotiations last month in Mexico City on the nearly 23-year-old free trade agreement with plenty of issues outstanding.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerChinese, US negotiators fine-tuning details of trade agreement: report The Trump economy keeps roaring ahead Trump says no discussion of extending deadline in Chinese trade talks MORE said in a statement on Nov. 21 after those talks that he remains "concerned about the lack of headway" on the agreement.  

"Thus far, we have seen no evidence that Canada or Mexico are willing to seriously engage on provisions that will lead to a rebalanced agreement," he said.

"Absent rebalancing, we will not reach a satisfactory result."

On Tuesday, President Trump met with six Republican senators at the White House who are urging him to preserve the North American deal.

Trump has said repeatedly that the U.S. has gotten a bad deal in NAFTA and he wants to see more benefits for America, including a decrease in trade deficits. 

"We're going to look at NAFTA very seriously," Trump said. 

The next round of talks is set for Jan. 23 in Montreal.

On the issue of the border wall, Gutiérrez reiterated that Mexico won't pay for the cost of construction.

"That's certainly not going to happen," he said.

The White House is urging Congress to include some funding for a border wall in any year-end spending bill. 

Gutiérrez suggested a tolling system that would help finance any border infrastructure projects.

"There have been preliminary discussions on that matter, and I think both sides are open," he said.