Nafta Talks Are Now Making ‘Amazing’ Progress, Trump Aide Says

The U.S. is now making “absolutely amazing’’ progress toward renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, and a deal could come as early as this fall, according to White House Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Kevin Hassett.

“My guess is that we will see something by the fall,’’ Hassett said in an interview that aired Saturday on Fox News. (Fall in the U.S. is variously described as running from Sept. 1 to Nov. 30, or from the autumnal equinox on Sept. 22 to the winter solstice on Dec. 21.)

While cautioning that he was “not a negotiator’’ involved in the talks between the U.S., Mexico and Canada, Hassett said his colleagues who are renegotiating the deal have indicated things are going well.

“It’s absolutely amazing the progress that they’re making,’’ he said.

Hassett’s upbeat comment echoed one by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who said on July 26 in congressional testimony that it’s possible Nafta partners will reach a tentative agreement in August to revamp the pact.

President Donald Trump has also recently said that the U.S. is making solid progress in talks with Mexico, but has indicated that his administration may pursue a bilateral deal with that country first before negotiating separately with Canada.

Trilateral Structure

Such a move would upend the decades-old trilateral Nafta deal and likely stretch out negotiations far longer. Mexico’s incoming president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has said he wants to keep the trilateral structure of Nafta in place.

The current Mexican administration, Canada as well as the U.S. Congress have said they support the final agreement having a trilateral structure. Lopez Obrador in a letter sent to Trump earlier this month also urged for Nafta to remain a three-way deal.

Some Republican members of Congress have urged Trump to reach a deal quickly and pull back from a trade war that’s hurt their constituents.

“Let’s get it done before September,” Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander said Saturday on Fox News. “Nafta’s been good for Tennessee.”

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