There’s no doubt Canadian businesses are watching negotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) closely. Some key negotiation rounds have triggered a spike in online searches for information on NAFTA (see figure). It’s likely we’ll see another surge of search activity as negotiators return to Washington to engage in the latest high-level talks. It’s hoped, after all these months of back-and-forth, negotiators can reach an agreement-in-principle.

There’s added urgency now. If a new NAFTA deal is going to be reached in 2018, it must happen soon. If not, several complicating factors could shift negotiating positions and cause further delays:

  • If NAFTA isn’t concluded by May 1st, the exemption for Canada and Mexico on U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs could expire.
  • July 1st is Mexico’s general election.
  • Also on July 1st, unless it’s renewed, the U.S. trade promotion authority (TPA) is due to expire. This would leave the U.S. without a legal negotiating mandate. (TPA gives Congressional guidance to the president on trade policy priorities and negotiating objectives).
  • In November, the U.S. holds midterm elections.

Full EDC post here: All eyes on NAFTA negotiations