Highlights of first round NAFTA renegotiation talks

CNC
Added On August 22, 2017

MEXICO CITY, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) -- Mexico, the U.S. and Canada held their first round of talks for the renegotiation of the 23-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) from Aug. 16-20.

Here are the key points of this first round of meeting.

Representatives:

Robert Lighthizer, Trade Representative of United States; Ildefonso Guajardo, Minister of Economy of Mexico, and Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada.

Topics:

Financial services, investment, digital trade, textiles, small and medium enterprises, legal and institutional matter, technical obstacles to trade, labor, government purchasing, sanitary and phytosanitary measures.

Also intellectual property, exchange rate manipulation, customs procedures, environment, cross-border services, telecommunications, best regulatory practices, and state-owned enterprises.

Sticking points during the first round of talks:

The U.S. wants to eliminate Chapter 19 of NAFTA, concerning dispute settlement, but Mexico and Canada oppose this.

Chapter 19 states that bi-national reviews must take place to revise rulings concerning illegal subsidies and dumping.

The U.S. and Canada are urging Mexico to increase salaries, complaining that current low salaries encourage companies to set up factories in Mexico.

However, prior to the meeting, Guajardo said that Mexico's minimum salary would not be up for discussion during the negotiation.

The U.S. is also seeking to modify rules of origin to increase local content requirements for vehicles and auto parts, including a country-by-country scheme, that the Mexican Economy Minister has said is "impossible."

Future rounds:

The second round of talks will take place in Mexico City from September 1 to 5.

The third round of talks will take place in Canada in late September, with dates to be confirmed.

The fourth round of talks will take place in the United States in October, still with dates to be confirmed.

Mexico, the U.S. and Canada agreed to continue negotiations at an accelerated pace, which will require a large effort and commitment, according to the final statement of the first round of talks.