Canadian auto plan in doubt after lifting NAFTA talks

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Lighthizer said the USA views NAFTA as a "very important agreement" and said the sixth round of talks between Canada, the United States and Mexico, which concluded Monday, were a "step forward".

While "some" progress has been made in the sixth round of renegotiations to modernise the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that concluded this week, the U.S. has once again expressed concerns over the slow progress of the talks and addressed the so-called "misunderstanding" that it is being unfair in the negotiations.

The mood lightened after Canada presented a series of suggested compromises to address the main USA demands for reform.

With round six of the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement having concluded in Montreal negotiators are now preparing for round 7 next month in Mexico.

Canada said USA broke the WTO's Anti-Dumping Agreement, the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, and the Understanding on Rules and Procedures Governing the Settlement of Disputes.

Lighthizer did not respond to reporters' questions on Monday morning.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland defended the rules of origin idea but conceded that "there is still a significant gap on a number of issues". Eastern time (1620 GMT).

She said negotiations are characterized by "dramatic" statements.

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"That's unusual", said one of the sources, who declined to give more details.

Perhaps Mexico and Canada's successful participation in CPTPP (the new TPP without the U.S.) helped influence this shift. His comments have unsettled markets that fret about the potential damage to a highly integrated North American economy.

"We'll work hard between now and the beginning of the next round (in Mexico at the end of February) and we hope for major breakthroughs during that period", he said.

"The fact that they're still talking tells me that both sides have been putting forward positions that are in some way trying to move them closer to an agreement", he said.

The three sides are still far apart over US demands to boost regional auto content requirements and require 50 percent USA content in North American-built vehicles.

"Progress has been achieved in several areas of the negotiation, especially in those chapters that aim to modernize NAFTA", he said.

"Some real headway was made here", Lighthizer said. "This proposal, I think if the United States had made it, would be dubbed a "poison pill".

"Now that's a lot of two-way trade, but it also means that Canada has an over $87bn USA dollar surplus with the United States", he explained. Round seven of the NAFTA renegotiation is set for late next month in Mexico before heading back to Washington in March for what is now scheduled as the final round of negotiations. We are committed to moving forward. When the plant opened in 2016, the over 5,000 workers eventually hired had no say on the contract or their leaders.

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