Freeland to visit Washington this week for NAFTA talks

Ottawa | Reuters — Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland will visit Washington this week in another bid to help unblock talks on the North American Free Trade Agreement, a spokesman said on Monday.

Freeland will be in Washington on Tuesday and Wednesday, said spokesman Adam Austen. The U.S., Mexico and Canada are struggling to settle deep differences over what a new NAFTA should look like.

“We’ve said all along we are ready to go (to Washington) at any time,” Austen said by phone, but declined to comment when asked about the chances of the three nations sealing an agreement.

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Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said last week there was about a 40 per cent chance of concluding the NAFTA talks before Mexico’s presidential election on July 1.

Guajardo and Freeland have held several rounds of talks with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who says he wants a quick deal to avoid the talks overlapping with campaigning in Mexico.

The negotiations are moving slowly as Mexico and Canada try to digest far-reaching U.S. demands to impose tougher minimum content requirements for autos built in the region.

— Reporting for Reuters by Leah Schnurr in Ottawa.

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