Trump praises Mexico, threatens Canada with auto tariffs

Mexico says its bilateral NAFTA talks with U.S. to drag into next week

U.S. and Mexican negotiators will resume talks next week on the update of the North American Free Trade Agreement, Mexico's Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said Friday, August 10. "Will tax cars if can't make a deal!"

The U.S. -Mexico talks for a reworked North American Free Trade Agreement resumed three weeks ago, without Canada, after negotiations involving all three members of the $1.2 trillion trade bloc stalled in May. The one-on-one talks are expected to extend into next week. It is Canada that has proven the stumbling block in renegotiating NAFTA.

Some observers have raised concerns about Canada's absence from recent high-level negotiations on the three-country trade deal.

At the close of the 3rd consecutive week of discussions in Washington, Guajardo said a deal was still possible by the end of the month.

Asked if he could finish the U.S. -Mexico issues on Friday, Guajardo said "I don't think today but we are very close".

To complicate matters, the already rocky Canada-U.S. relationship has deteriorated since the partners suspended talks in the spring.

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Trump added that Canada "must wait" to rejoin the NAFTA talks.

But the US negotiators do not want to apply the same guarantees to new Mexican auto plants, the officials said, as the potential threat of 25 percent tariffs would discourage new automotive investment in Mexico to serve the USA market.

"New President of Mexico has been an absolute gentleman", he said, referring to leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, set to take over later this year.

In a tweet, the president also said a Nafta deal with Mexico "is coming along nicely".

Earlier Friday, a source familiar with Ottawa's NAFTA effort said Canadian negotiators would not be returning to the bargaining table in Washington until the USA and Mexico find common ground on their outstanding issues, especially the complex sticking points around the auto sector.

In response, Canadian officials announced "dollar for dollar" retaliatory tariffs, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called them at the time, to the tune of over C$16 billion in US imports.

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