NAFTA progress slowed down in the fifth round of talks

Negotiators from Canada, Mexico, and the US have concluded their fifth round of talks to modernise the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which were held between 17-21 November in Mexico City. The pace of the talks has recently slowed down, because parties have entered into more contentious topics. These topics include a proposal put forward by the US on increasing content requirements in automobile rules of origin, as well as Washington’s push to eliminate the dispute settlement chapter on trade remedies. A US statement, issued after the meeting, recognised that the three parties are ‘in a challenging situation’, because the US has seen ‘seen no evidence that Canada or Mexico are willing to seriously engage on provisions that will lead to a rebalanced agreement’. Although no chapter was concluded, Mexican authorities mentioned that there were ‘substantial advances in anti-corruption, telecommunications, good regulatory practices, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, trade facilitation, e-commerce, technical barriers to trade, and various sectoral annexes’. According to a common statement issued after the meeting, the next formal round of negotiations will take place  from 23 to 28 January, in Montreal, Canada. The parties are aiming to conclude the talks by the end of March.