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article imageNo cutoff date for Canada to join NAFTA 2.0: Mexico president-elect

By AFP     Sep 28, 2018 in World

There is no cutoff date for Canada to join the US-Mexican deal meant to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, Mexico's president-elect said Friday as the text was submitted to legislators.

"There is no fatal date, there is still time to reach a deal... to keep (NAFTA) trilateral," said President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who takes office on December 1.

Lopez Obrador spoke as the US and Mexican Congresses were due to receive the final text of the two-way deal, moving it a big step closer to becoming reality.

At the same time, the United States and Canada continued to spar over the terms of Canada's possible inclusion in what was originally a three-country deal.

Lopez Obrador said he had spoken by phone Thursday with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who told him his government's talks with Washington were "difficult."

"He said the negotiation was very difficult, that it might not be possible (to reach a three-way deal), but that they (Canada) had made a proposal," he told a press conference.

He said he had been informed Friday that there was a counter-proposal from the United States.

"That means the negotiations aren't over yet," he said.

The leftist president-elect reiterated his insistence that Mexico prefers to keep NAFTA 2.0 a three-country deal.

But he said he considered the substance of the US-Mexican deal to be final, and that Mexico did not want to renegotiate points that had already been agreed with Washington.

Lopez Obrador, widely known as "AMLO," has been actively involved in the negotiations to update the trade agreement.

US President Donald Trump has been pushing for a complete overhaul of NAFTA, which entered into force 25 years ago between the United States, Canada and Mexico.

In August, after breaking away for two-way talks on their outstanding issues, the United States and Mexico announced they had reached a two-way deal.

But talks to incorporate Canada have stumbled over issues including the protected Canadian dairy industry and a provision for settling trade disputes.

"We're not getting along with their negotiators," Trump said Wednesday of Canada.

"Canadians are tough negotiators, as we should be," Trudeau fired back.

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