Washington, Sep 6: The US, Canada and Mexico have claimed progress in talks to update the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta), despite US President Donald Trump's threat to terminate the deal.
"Important progress was achieved in many disciplines," US Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said in a joint statement at the end of the five-day second round talks on Sunday in Mexico City. "More than two dozen working groups comprised of trade experts and technical officials worked diligently to advance the discussions and exchanged information and proposals," Xinhua news agency quoted the statement released by the USTR's office as saying. It resulted in the consolidation of proposals into a single text upon which the teams will continue to work during subsequent negotiation rounds, they said. Despite Trump's threat to terminate the 23-year-old trilateral trade deal, the ministers from the three countries "reaffirm their commitment" to an accelerated and comprehensive negotiation, with the shared goal of "concluding the process towards the end of this year". The third round of the Nafta talks will take place in Ottawa, Canada from September 23 to 27, according to the statement. As Mexico will have a general election in July 2018 and the US congressional mid-term elections are slated for the next fall, negotiators have hoped that Nafta talks could be wrapped up by early next year. IANS