Canada May not Return to NAFTA Talks Soon

Mexico’s top trade negotiator has reported that it could be a while before Canada is invited back to the NAFTA bargaining table.

According to the report on,Nationalpost.com,a source familiar with the negotiations said that Canada will definitely not take part when the talks resume next Wednesday.

A close observer to the process notes that as Canada delays on the sidelines, discussions on some trilateral subjects around an updated free-trade agreement are going on and possibly decided by the others. This notion is possibly true, considering the fact the Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said his country and the U.S. have been making a lot of progress, but would be back in Washington next week for a fourth week of two-way talks. He had suggested that Canada would later join them for the talks but he was not clear as to when exactly, the country was joining in.

“It will depend on these meetings in the next few days and weeks to finish the U.S.-Mexico elements, more particularly the bilateral relationship,” said Guajardo When asked if Canada would come in at the completion of the bilateral talks, he said “That’s the idea,”.

According to the National Post, aCanadian government official who asked not to be named declined to comment on when its officials would be back at the table, but noted that it’s widely believed the focus of the Mexico-U.S. sessions has been the American desire to see the vehicles it imports duty-free under NAFTA include more North American-made parts and more content produced by high-wage workers. Canada is expected to agree to much of that.

It can be recalled that towards the end of July, news had it that Canada was rejected in a bid to join the senior level NAFTA talks, it was reported by NationalNews.com, that attempts by Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland to get a seat at the table in Washington Thursday were either ignored, or spurned outright by the office of U.S.

Canada’s rejection came right afterLighthizer’shad made a remark that he hoped to strike a separate deal with Mexico, then use that as pressure to win compromises from Canada.

A trade lawyer,  Dan Ujczo, who is aware of the NAFTA discussions has said that it is highly unlikely that the US and Mexico have only been talking about just vehicle importations, as intellectual property rights, labor rights and other clearly trilateral issues have also arisen.

It is feared that if more talks were to continue without the Canada’s involvement, there might be pressure of Canada when it finally returns, to accept deals made by the other two countries. Canada may at that point have no further choice than to accept.

Canada wants an independent dispute resolution and also is also against U.S. requests for a sunset clause on the agreement; however a three way NAFTA deal is still thought to be possible if involved parties, especially the U.S. and Canada, show a little less rigidity.