A U.S.-Mexican team is actively drafting a text of their bilateral trade deal that can be released in 10 days, Mexico confirmed Thursday, amid speculation that Canada and the States will not strike their own pact until after the Quebec election Oct. 1.
The two-country text will incorporate placeholders allowing Canada to be slotted in if it agrees to join the accord by the Sept. 30 deadline, said sources briefed on the process.
But it appears increasingly possible that Canada’s talks will continue up to and possibly beyond the end of the month, with key sticking points including the Chapter 19 dispute-resolution system.
Meetings between Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer ended Thursday without a breakthrough.
Freeland was expected back in Ottawa Friday, meaning the ministerial-level discussions would resume next week at the earliest.
An agreement then would come on the eve of voting in Quebec, where much of the milk industry is based and major concessions on access to the dairy market could turn into a volatile election issue. The latest poll shows the governing Liberals creeping ahead of the CAQ in a tightly-fought race.
The word throughout the U.S. administration and Congress is that Canadian trade negotiators are not willing to make deep dairy compromises until after Oct. 1, said Dan Ujczo, a trade lawyer closely monitoring the talks.“If we move past today without any significant progress, I think we’re looking at a post-Quebec election scenario,” he said. “If I’m a Canadian negotiator, why would I make significant […]