Mar 5, 2018

US Trade Rep says “time is running very short” on NAFTA negotiations

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. Photo: Ronaldo Schemidt / AFP / Getty Images

Today marks the end of the seventh round of NAFTA talks, with just 3 of 30 chapters (negotiation topics) closed this round.

Where things stand: U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer says that time might be running out to get a NAFTA deal on the books, with elections coming up this year in all three countries. Most significantly, the campaign for Mexico’s July presidential election will kick off in a few weeks.

Where negotiations stand: One of the most controversial questions on the table, regarding auto manufacturing and rules of origin, has not been resolved. Only 6 chapters in total have been closed across the seven rounds of talks.

Bottom line: Negotiations could take a back-burner and be kicked to 2019. Or, as Trump has threatened, the U.S. could withdraw.

  • The political calculus: A ratification vote would need to go before Congress.
  • No deal in sight: Experts don’t think they will be able to finish negotiations by the end of the next round, coming this month in Washington, per Reuters.
  • Separate deals: Lighthizer said he would be willing to break the negotiations into separate bilateral negotiations, but that that would not be ideal.

How tariffs are playing: Trump today said if Canada and Mexico gave the U.S. a “fair” deal he would consider exempting them from steel and aluminum tariffs. But Canada and Mexico pushed back on this idea.

The tone at the close:

  • USTR Lighthizer: “We have not made the progress that many had hoped in this round.”
  • Canada’s Foreign Minister, Chrystia Freeland: "Canada would view any trade restrictions on Canadian steel and aluminum as absolutely unacceptable.”
  • Mexico’s Economy Minister Ildefonso Guahjardo said negotiations aren’t moving fast enough, per Reuters.

Go deeper

Tariff worries hit record high amid coronavirus outbreak

Data: CivicScience, margin of error ±1 percentage points; Chart: Axios Visuals

Concern about President Trump's tariffs on U.S imports grew to record high levels among Americans last month, particularly as more lost their jobs and concern about the novel coronavirus increased.

Driving the news: About seven in 10 people said they were at least somewhat concerned about tariffs in March, according to the latest survey from CivicScience provided first to Axios.

U.S. coronavirus updates: Largest 24-hour spike in fatalities

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

New York's death toll from the novel coronavirus surged to its highest one-day total on Tuesday, as the U.S. saw its largest 24-hour spike in fatalities, per Johns Hopkins data. Recorded deaths across the U.S. surpassed 12,900 early Wednesday.

Why it matters: State officials have stressed that lockdowns must continue even if cities begin to see slight improvements from social distancing. Several hot spots, including New York, New Orleans, and Detroit, are expected to peak in the coming days.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 1 hour ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 a.m. ET: 1,430,453 — Total deaths: 82,133 — Total recoveries: 301,385Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 12:30 a.m. ET: 399,081 — Total deaths: 12,907 — Total recoveries: 22,461Map.
  3. Federal government latest: Acting Navy secretary resigns over handling of virus-infected ship — Trump removes watchdog overseeing rollout of $2 trillion coronavirus bill — Trump said he "didn't see" memos from his trade adviser Peter Navarro warning that the crisis could kill more than half a million Americans.
  4. States latest: California Gov. Gavin Newsom is confident that more than 200 million masks will be delivered to the state "at a monthly basis starting in the next few weeks."
  5. Business latest: America's food heroes in times of the coronavirus crisis. Even when the economy comes back to life, huge questions for airlines will remain.
  6. World updates: China reopens Wuhan after 10-week coronavirus lockdown.
  7. 2020 latest: Polls for Wisconsin's primary elections closed at 9 p.m. ET Tuesday, but results won't be released until April 13. Thousands of residents cast ballots in person.
  8. 1 Olympics thing: About 6,500 athletes who qualified for the Tokyo Games will keep their spots in 2021.
  9. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.