Upcoming NAFTA Talks In Montreal Extended As Government Leaders Meet

Next week’s scheduled negotiations in Montreal aimed at revitalizing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) have been extended by one day as senior government leaders from Canada, the U.S. and Mexico join the talks.

Negotiators for the three trading partners had originally been due to meet from January 23 to 28 in Montreal, with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo and Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland joining the discussions on the final day of the penultimate round of talks. They will now do so on January 29 instead as the meetings have been extended by one day.

Prospects for next week’s talks are unclear. U.S. President Donald Trump told Reuters on Wednesday of this week that terminating NAFTA would result in the “best deal” to revamp the 24-year-old trade pact, which he blames for Mexico’s large trade surplus with the U.S. President Trump is also insistent that Mexico pay for a wall he wants to have erected along the southern U.S. border – a demand that Mexico’s government has rejected.

“Mexico will not pay for a wall and it’s not a negotiating stance from Mexico – it’s an issue of national sovereignty and dignity,” Mexican Finance Minister Finance Minister Jose Antonio Gonzalez Anaya told reporters after talks with Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau in Toronto on Thursday.

The NAFTA negotiations have bogged down as Canada and Mexico resist radical demands from the U.S. to revise the rules governing one of the world’s largest trading blocs. Reports out of the U.S. this week have said that officials in the White House are growing frustrated and impatient with the NAFTA negotiations.