(Greg Quinn, Josh Wingrove & Andrew Mayeda – Bloomberg)
Robert Lighthizer’s trial balloon of seeking a stopgap NAFTA deal has caught the attention of counterparts with Canada hailing recent progress, saying it remains ready to bargain while warning that gaps remain.
The U.S. Trade Representative said Wednesday he’s “hopeful’’ of reaching a deal “in the next little bit” with Canada and Mexico to update the North American Free Trade Agreement. “If there’s a real effort made to try to close out and to compromise and do some of the things we all know we should do, I’m optimistic we can get something done in principle in the next little bit,” he said in an interview on CNBC television.
The path forward is unclear. Canada’s chief negotiator, Steve Verheul, said he didn’t know what an “in principle’’ deal would look like and “significant gaps” remain. The desire for faster talks hasn’t been followed up with Canada and Mexico being given a firm date or an invitation to attend the next round of talks expected in April in Washington. Click here to read more.