Seventh round of NAFTA talks concludes three chapters, leaves six more near completion
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The negotiating teams from Mexico, United States and Canada managed to close three NAFTA chapters and left six more near completion in the seventh round of talks in Mexico City, the biggest advance for a round just over half a year after its start.
In the seventh round of NAFTA negotiations, which began on Sunday, February 25 and ended today, the negotiators concluded the chapters of good regulatory practices, transparency and sanitary and phytosanitary measures.
The three chapters are added to three others that the negotiators managed to close in previous rounds: small and medium enterprises, competition and anti-corruption measures. With this, progress has been made in just six of the 30 chapters that are on the negotiating table.
Among the chapters that are close to concluding are telecommunications, digital commerce, technical barriers to trade, energy, state-owned companies and financial services. These topics will be discussed during an intersessional round of five weeks.
The eighth round of renegotiations, although it could happen in the first half of April, still has no specific date.
The U.S. Trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, declared that the pace will have to be accelerated because in seven rounds only six chapters were completed. Although, he warned: "President Trump has said we expect a successful end to these talks and we prefer the trilateral route, but if it is impossible, we are prepared for bilateral bases."
The issue of the U.S. announcement that there will be tariffs on steel and aluminum from Mexico and Canada provoked a strong comment from the Canadian foreign minister, who said that this action is "unacceptable" and warned "we are going to impose reciprocal measures to defend the workers".