With little movement, NAFTA talks said to run risk of stalemate

MEXICO CITY – Talks to update the North American Free Trade Agreement appeared to be in danger of grinding toward a stalemate amid complaints of US negotiators’ inflexibility, people familiar with the process said on Sunday.

The United States, Canada and Mexico are holding the fifth of seven planned rounds of talks to modernize NAFTA, which US President Donald Trump blames for job losses and big trade deficits for his country.

Time is running short to reach a deal before the March 2018 start of Mexico’s presidential elections, and lack of progress in the current round could put the schedule at risk.

“The talks are really not going anywhere,” Jerry Dias, president of Unifor, the largest Canadian private-sector union, told reporters after meeting with Canada’s chief negotiator on Sunday.

“As long as the United States is taking the position they are, this is a colossal waste of time,” said Mr Dias, who is advising the government and regularly meets the Canadian team.

Hanging over the negotiations is the very real threat that Mr Trump could make good on a threat to scrap NAFTA.

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