Lighthizer hints Mexico pact may need to be reopened if delayed — NAFTA

President Trump's trade czar signaled the USA and Mexico are ready to leave Canada behind in the North American Free Trade Agreement-and move ahead with a new version of the deal in days.

With time fast running out ahead of a US -imposed deadline to conclude talks on the North American Free Trade Agreement, Canadian and American negotiators are making slow progress.

"There is still a fair amount of distance between us", U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said of Canada at a conference in NY.

"We're going to go ahead with Mexico", he said. "Our hope is that Canada comes along and joins that right now". "If Canada comes along later, then that's what will happen".

He added: "We're sort of running out of time". -Mexican deal might form the basis of a three-nation pact.


The chief US trade negotiator is scheduled to meet with Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland on the sidelines of the annual United Nations General Assembly meeting in NY.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke before Lighthizer at an event hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations in NY and took a more cautious tone about the outcome.

If the remaining gaps can not be bridged in the next few days, the administration will request congressional approval of a deal with Mexico only, Lighthizer said in NY at the Concordia summit, an annual conference on policy issues. "That doesn't make any sense at all, so hopefully we'll end up with something with Canada".

Canada has also made clear that the United States needs to withdraw the threat of auto tariffs for a deal to be possible, say officials. "There are very large issues", Lighthizer said, playing down chances of a deal with Canada.

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