Manufacture This

The blog of the Alliance for American Manufacturing

But progress is progress.

Another round of Nafta talks have finished up. Ministers from Canada and Mexico left Washington, D.C. on Friday, with plans to meet again on May 7.

That won’t beat the May 1 deadline, the date by which the Trump administration has to decide whether to extend Canada and Mexico’s exemption from the steel and aluminum tariffs. President Trump had used them to induce progress in the talks, but it looks like enough has been made to take that threat off the table.

Work is getting done. U.S. negotiators have given a little ground on positions regarding rules of origin for autos and what should get duty-free status inside North America, but the standards are still improved. That’s good!

But other hurdles are on the calendar. Mexico is having a presidential election in July – and if the deal isn’t done by then, it could get scrambled, even though the frontrunner’s campaign said it would respect a deal that is done before the vote. And it needs to be done as quickly as possible for it to have any chance of getting through the current Congress in Washington, which is the Trump administration’s goal.  

 And there are still other issues in the agreement that still must be worked out. Wages haven’t been addressed yet, as the current Mexican administration doesn’t want to raise them. And Canadian negotiators are not into the “sunset clause” at all.

But: A Mexican minister said a deal is “reasonably close.”

The fact that there’s progress while this is going on …

... is really remarkable.