Guajardo says NAFTA deal unlikely by Thursday

A New NAFTA Deal Doesn't Seem Close, Despite Deadline

That deadline was put in place by House Speaker Paul Ryan in hopes the GOP-led Congress will vote on a renegotiated deal before the midterms.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said on Monday that none of the contentious issues in a new NAFTA trade deal appear to have been resolved, diminishing chances of meeting a Thursday deadline to notify U.S. lawmakers of an agreement. "We do not think we will have it by Thursday", Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo told broadcaster Televisa on Tuesday.

The negotiations began in August, after U.S. President Donald Trump took office.

"We will keep negotiating, and in the moment that we have a good negotiation, we can close the deal. independent of which Congress (the current or new) that will vote on it", said Guajardo.

United States House Speaker Paul Ryan set the cut-off date last Wednesday amid some optimism that Mexico, the USA and Canada could soon reach an agreement in principle as a result of meetings attended last week by the chief trade representatives in Washington.

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Guajardo proposed another possible end date, saying NAFTA talks could conclude by Mexico's presidential elections on July 1 or shortly after.

Mexico's peso sank to its weakest in more than a year on Tuesday.

Guajardo said it was not yet clear when the ministers from Mexico, Canada and the United States responsible for negotiating NAFTA would meet again.

"The conditions are still not there at this time", affirmed Guajardo, who heads Mexico's negotiating team.

However, if that doesn't happen, Graciela Márquez said, it would be preferable to complete the negotiations after the new president is sworn in in December.

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"The ball is in their court", one Mexican government official said of the Americans when asked about next steps for the NAFTA talks.

However, talks still faced the hurdles of USA demands for a sunset clause that would allow NAFTA to expire if it is not renegotiated every five years, and the elimination of settlement panels for trade disputes.

Sanders did not address Ryan's timeline, but said Trump was adamant he would get a deal "that works for America".

Democratic Rep. Rosa DeLauro of CT on Wednesday urged negotiators to continue their talks, saying Ryan's deadline is arbitrary.

Irrespective of the Thursday deadline mentioned by Ryan, there was still time to ratify a new NAFTA this year, Smith told broadcaster Enfoque Noticias.

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