Pence Says Renegotiated NAFTA Deal Could be Close

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, right, shakes hands with Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after a bilateral meeting at the Summit of the Americas in Lima, Peru, Saturday, April 14, 2018. (Karel Navarro/Associated Press)

U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence said on Saturday he was leaving a summit of Latin American countries in Peru very hopeful that the United States, Mexico and Canada were close to a deal on a renegotiated NAFTA trade pact.

Pence told reporters it was possible that a deal would be reached in the next several weeks.

“As the president said very recently, we think we are close, we are encouraged at the progress of our negotiations and we are hopeful that we can conclude a successful renegotiation of NAFTA that will result in greater prosperity and a more fair and reciprocal trade between Canada the United States and Mexico,” Pence told reporters in a separate news conference with Justin Trudeau on Saturday.

The vice-president also said that the topic of funding for U.S. President Donald Trump’s proposed wall on the U.S. border with Mexico did not come up in Pence’s meeting with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.

Dramatic shifts in the tone of trade talks have developed recently, with the Trump administration softening one key demand in the NAFTA negotiations, then expressing an interest in re-joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

After spending months demanding a big increase in the amount of content cars must include from North America to avoid a tariff, in addition to insisting that half of every car comprise U.S. parts, it has now softened both proposals.

Trump has repeatedly rejected the notion of a specific timeline on NAFTA, though the impending Mexican election in the summer has left negotiators from all three camps feeling pressure to come to a timely agreement.

“We’re getting pretty close to a deal [on NAFTA],” Trump said at the White House. “It could be two weeks, it could be three months, it could be five months, I don’t care … I have no timeline.”

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