by Reade Pickert, Jenny Leonard and Andrew Mayeda
Negotiations with Mexico on an update to the North American Free Trade Agreement are going well and may be close to wrapping up, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said.
“Our immediate, most close-to-completion negotiations are with NAFTA, particularly with Mexico,” Ross said Monday at a conference in Washington, adding that President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has “wasted no time” appointing a new trade team. “There’s a pretty good chance that we could be on a pretty rapid track with the Mexican talks.”
The Mexico peso extended gains during Ross’s comments, and was up 0.7% against the dollar at 10:21 a.m. New York time.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said last week that the Trump administration is hopeful that NAFTA talks are in the “finishing stages.” Negotiations to modernize the deal started in August last year.
President Donald Trump also said this month that the U.S. is making solid progress in talks with Mexico, but has indicated that his administration may pursue a bilateral deal with that country first before negotiating separately with Canada.
Such a move would upend the decades-old trilateral NAFTA deal and likely stretch out negotiations far longer. Lopez Obrador, who takes office in December, has said he wants to keep the trilateral structure of NAFTA in place.
The current Mexican administration, the Canadian government as well as members of the U.S. Congress have said they support a trilateral structure for NAFTA.
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