Sources say while progress was again made in the latest round of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) talks in Mexico, the most sensitive areas of negotiations still linger.
President Trump insisted on Monday that he’s “not backing down” on his plan to impose stiff tariffs on imported steel and aluminum despite warnings from House Speaker Paul Ryan and other congressional Republicans of a possible trade war. The President on Monday warned Mexico and Canada that their metal exports would be penalized until they agree on a plan to overhaul North America’s trading system.
Many lawmakers agree with Mr. Trump that the deal has major flaws that need to be addressed, but few if any on Capitol Hill want to withdraw from the pact without having a replacement in place.
Trump tweeted early Monday, “Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum will only come off if new & fair NAFTA agreement is signed. Also, Canada must treat our farmers much better.”
Former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is currently the President and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council.
Sources say negotiators have wrapped up four chapters of about 30 so far, and talks could run for the rest of this year and even into 2019.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said Monday he hoped the prospect of avoiding steel and aluminum tariffs would help accelerate the NAFTA negotiations. He said if Mexico and Canada could reach “an agreement in principle” in a few weeks, they would never face the tougher duties.
Still, Lighthizer and his counterparts did hail some advances on parts of the pact, saying they had finalized chapters on harmonizing regulations and food safety standards across the continent.