6th Round of NAFTA Talks Ends with Little Progress, More Meetings Scheduled

The sixth round of talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade agreement ended in Montreal Monday with little fanfare and no major agreements, but the talks will go on despite widespread fear they might be terminated because of a lack of progress.

The top negotiators for the U.S., Canada and Mexico agreed to extend talks for at least two more rounds. The next round will be held in Mexico in late February or early March. The eighth will be in the U.S.

While U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland and Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo all admitted they are nowhere near a comprehensive deal, they also stressed that there were successes in Montreal. Negotiators finished a chapter on anti-corruption and are close to finishing the chapter on improving sanitary and phytosanitary agreements for agricultural trade.

Brian Kuehl, executive director of Farmers for Free Trade, led a delegation of U.S. farmers and ranchers to Montreal for the talks. He said he was pleased that the NAFTA talks weren’t terminated, but also stressed concern over prolonging the uncertainty.

“As we head into planting season, farmers need the confidence that exports to America’s two most important agricultural export markets will remain viable,” Kuehl said. “While it’s heartening to know that progress was made and compromises were proposed in Montreal, it’s also clear that these negotiations could last longer than anticipated.”

Source: AgriMarketing

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