Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday May 4, 2018
U.S. pushes for NAFTA deal in week or two or ‘you start having a problem’
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said he wants to reach a deal in coming weeks to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement, adding a sense of urgency to trilateral negotiations that have run for over eight months.
Lighthizer is scheduled to meet with his Mexican and Canadian counterparts on Monday after he returns from a trip to China. The three have been holding regular talks since August, and last week gathered in Washington for several days of negotiations. While Canada’s government highlighted a series of major sticking points that still remain in a call with stakeholders Tuesday, Lighthizer struck an upbeat tone.
“We’re going to meet again on Monday, and we’ll see if we can get a good agreement,” Lighthizer said during a conference in Washington on Tuesday. “I’d like to get it done a week or two after that. If not, then you start having a problem.”
That’s because by law it could take the House and Senate months to ratify any changes to NAFTA. The U.S. holds congressional elections in November and a new Congress starts up in January. Waiting until then “changes the whole way you have to kind of construct the deal,” he said.
Lighthizer said he’s aiming for an agreement that will have broad support in the current Congress, with at least 65 per cent of the Senate and House approving the deal. “It’s my ambition that this not be a Republican vote,” he said. “It’s got to be a bipartisan vote. We want to have a big vote.” (Source: Financial Post)