Auto part content requirements could sink NAFTA talks

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US negotiators on Wednesday presented a proposal for a so-called "sunset clause" that would see the North American Free Trade Agreement expire after five years unless the parties can agree to extend it, according to two people familiar with the talks.

Asked by a reporter if he would make a trade pact with Canada if he can not reach agreement with Mexico in the NAFTA negotiations, Trump said: "Oh sure, absolutely".

President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau walk along the Colonnade to the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Oct. 11.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Thomas Donohue, speaking in Mexico City on Tuesday, pledged to fight "like hell" to defend Nafta if Trump tries to pull out. He told Forbes magazine: "NAFTA will have to be terminated if we're going to make it good". Yet we have seen that our politicians, like all Canadians, are willing to set aside ideological differences when the chips are down. Trump wants it to be 85 percent, including 50 percent from the U.S. The Chamber of Commerce called that a "poison pill" in the NAFTA talks.

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People briefed on US proposals to be presented this week said Washington was seeking to sharply lift North American content threshold in auto manufacturing. Over half the products in Mexican supermarkets are USA and Canadian imports, he explains to AS/COA Online Editor-in-Chief Carin Zissis.

A similar tension appears to exist in Mexico, where President Enrique Pena Nieto has pledged to defend the deal, but some of his senior leadership appear to be laying groundwork for it to fail.

The Canadian PM, while addressing a gathering at the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit recently, with the United States president's daughter Ivanka in the crowd listening to him, said his approach towards reaching out to Trump remains the same like any other global leader.

The U.S. side sees strengthening the rules of origin for the auto industry as a way to bring back automotive production and jobs from Asia. The negotiations were extended on Wednesday by two days to Oct 17.

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Trudeau, in comments later at the Canadian Embassy, said he remains optimistic about the potential for a NAFTA deal but noted that Canadians must be "ready for anything". With many workers unable to afford the vehicles Mexico produces, the country exports about three times as many cars as are purchased domestically, most to the United States.

"There will always be challenges that come up that we can thoughtfully work through", he told the lawmakers.

For its part, the Mexican Government seems resigned to the possibility that NAFTA may be coming to an end for the country. Raising Mexican wages is one U.S. negotiating objective, a U.S. Trade Rep's fact sheet says, along with eliminating the ISDS.

The top US business group pledged to fight to preserve the pact, a congressional committee said it was committed to successful talks, and Mexico signaled it can live without the accord. Still, to this day, President Trump has seemed more interested in placing "poison pills" and renewing reckless threats to withdraw entirely from this mutually beneficial trade agreement, rather than working with our worldwide allies and neighbors to find solutions that directly aids American production and labor. In prior rounds of NAFTA talks, the advisors received daily briefings.

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