Trump hints at making ‘a big trade agreement with Mexico’

Mexico's Secretary of Economy Ildefonso Guajardo enters the Office of the US Trade Representative during a day of meetings on the NAFTA treaty in Washington

Mexico's President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has thanked U.S. President Donald Trump for treating Mexicans with more respect - or at least not saying anything insulting lately.

Reuters reports that disputes about auto rules have pushed talks into next week, but the U.S. and Mexico are seemingly closer to resolving other issues.

Canada, Mexico and the United States have been engaged in talks at Trump's initiative over the modernization of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) for exactly a year.

Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland of Canada said earlier that she was encouraged by the progress and would rejoin the talks once bilateral discussions concluded.

His tweet followed a similarly promising message from Mexico's Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo, who said on Friday that bilateral meetings with the United States were "very far" along. Lighthizer and Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and adviser, declined to comment on Sunday afternoon. US President Donald Trump has long-since vowed to tear up the agreement, describing it as "the worst trade deal maybe ever signed anywhere, but certainly ever signed in this country".

Other issues that still need to be resolved include the so-called sunset clause, which would kill the deal after five years unless the parties agree to renew it; rules for government procurement; and dispute settlement mechanisms.

Both Mexican and Canadian officials have also balked at a US proposal for a "sunset" provision that could end the trade pact after five years, arguing that such a clause could send the wrong message to investors seeking long-term commitments.

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Trump has threatened to walk out of the pact in the absence of an agreement that is more favorable to USA interests.

Energy, the Journal reported, was left out of the original NAFTA when it came into force 24 years ago because Mexico's state monopoly on oil didn't allow private investment in the industry.

A report by Politico, based on information from unidentified sources, said the White House is expected to announce a "handshake" deal between the USA and Mexico on Thursday.

"We're trying to really get all the solutions that are required, and we're well advanced, but we're not there yet", Guajardo said.

Since Mexico's July 1 presidential election, the Mexico-U.S. talks have been complicated by divisions between the incoming and outgoing Mexican administrations over energy policy.

On Saturday, Lopez Obrador's envoy Jesus Seade told reporters that the nations have resolved concerns that the deal had too many restrictions on how the next government can treat foreign oil companies investing in Mexico. Jesus Seade, the NAFTA representative for Mexican president-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, on Saturday predicted that the nations will agree on a lighter version of a so-called sunset clause, an automatic expiration after five years - a key USA demand. Any deal that would be signed after Obrador takes office is likely to involve renegotiating certain provisions to reflect the new president's populist mandate.

The United States and Mexico are keen to seal a new deal before Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto hands over power to Lopez Obrador on December 1.

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