Mexico NAFTA talks to continue Monday - minister


After two days of talks focused on rules for auto production, Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said that the US and Mexico still haven't resolved all their pending issues.

Mexico's president-elect also said that bilateral talks on renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement "are on a good track".

Trump said on Saturday that Washington could be in agreement in Mexico "soon" as the chief trade negotiator of Mexico's incoming president hinted at potential solutions to energy rules and a contentious USA "sunset clause" demand.

The trilateral treaty, which includes Canada, has been a key target in the United States president's aggressive trade strategy, and he has repeatedly threatened to scrap it altogether, branding it a "disaster".

Even as the USA and Mexico have largely finalized a deal on the new auto rules of origin, the US has been pushing for cars that don't meet the threshold to be subject to a 20%-to-25% tariff, according to the people familiar with the talks.

"Our relationship with Mexico is getting closer by the hour", he tweeted early Saturday.

For weeks, US and Mexican negotiators have been working to iron out complex bilateral trade concerns while Canada awaits the results and the opportunity to return to the negotiating table.

"Europe is a very important one that I've been looking forward to", she said, adding she will be meeting with the foreign ministers of Germany and France, as well as addressing the annual meeting of Ukraine's ambassadors to show Canada's support for its sovereignty and opposition to Russia's annexation of Crimea.

Two carmakers say the United States wants Mexican exports of cars and SUVs to be capped at about 2-million units, up from about 1.77-million exported in 2017, excluding pickup trucks.

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Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said negotiators will be back to meet with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on Friday morning.

"It's going to come out".

Seade also predicted that the nations will agree on a method to update Nafta without the threat of a so-called "sunset clause", an automatic expiration after five years - as the U.S. has sought since October.

Trump's trade team has employed a divide-and-conquer strategy in their attempts to renegotiate NAFTA, which they argue was responsible for "stealing" U.S. manufacturing jobs but which in fact has helped the USA auto sector prosper.

However, representatives of US agricultural, manufacturing and other sectors have cautioned the White House that walking away could be a blow for the USA economy.

Seade insisted the issue of auto country-of-origin rules was "basically resolved", with only details yet to be finalized. Canada is also part of the agreement. "He's a man whose style I really like", Seade said. "But I think a deal is very likely within reach in the very, very near future", Wilbur Ross, the USA commerce secretary, told CNBC on Wednesday.

Talks continued Sunday at the U.S. Trade Representative's offices in Washington.

The agreement resolves a key point of contention between the United States and Mexico. For that to happen, the US Congress must be notified 90 days in advance.