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November 23, 2017
NAFTA negotiations enter difficult phase in fifth round
Canada, Mexico and the United States announced that they concluded the fifth round of renegotiation and modernization of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which took place in Mexico City from November 17-21, 2017.
Prior to the round the United States Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer, released an updated summary of the U.S. negotiating objectives for the renegotiation which re-stated and amplified elements which appear non-negotiable to Canada and Mexico such as increasing American content in the automotive sector, cancellation of the dispute settlement chapter, and the expiry of the whole agreement after five years.
Following the round Mr. Lighthizer issued a statement saying he was concerned about the lack of headway. "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. Absent rebalancing, we will not reach a satisfactory result."
Negotiators from the three countries issued a brief statement after the round, stating: "In response to ministerial instructions at the end of the fourth round, chief negotiators concentrated on making progress with the aim of narrowing gaps and finding solutions. As a result, progress was made in a number of chapters."
"Chief negotiators reaffirmed their commitment to moving forward in all areas of the negotiations, in order to conclude negotiations as soon as possible. Ministers have agreed to hold the sixth round of negotiations from January 23 to 28, 2018, in Montréal, Canada. In the meantime, negotiators will continue their work in intersessional meetings in Washington, D.C., through mid-December and will report back to chief negotiators on the progress achieved."
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