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Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Trade watchers call Sept. 30 the "AMLO deadline" for President Trump's efforts to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The big picture: If the Trump administration can't strike a deal with Canada and Mexico by next Sunday — and the Canadians are showing few signs they'll comply with Trump's demands — it means Mexico's incoming leftist leader Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) would have to sign the final deal.

  • Everyone involved has been trying to avoid that scenario. AMLO has campaigned on far more aggressive changes to NAFTA than have been agreed to by Trump and current Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.
  • It's an image issue; AMLO and his team don't want his face tied to the new NAFTA, so by Pena Nieto signing the deal, he gives the new leftist leader political room to claim the new deal was a "fait accompli."

Assuming Canada doesn't cave, Trump has two options on the 30th:

  1. Delay the release of the trilateral deal, which would be a concession that AMLO has to be the one to sign the deal.
  2. Publish the text of a U.S.-Mexico only agreement. That would raise all sorts of questions, including how to get such a deal through a very skeptical Congress and how these amazing new automobile rules of origin would work without Canada.

Go deeper: To understand the fraught state of the NAFTA negotiations, read Phil Levy's latest for Forbes. "It really means," writes Levy, "that the odds of a revised NAFTA being implemented anytime soon just went from slim to slightly slimmer."

Go deeper

2 hours ago - World

Special report: Trump's U.S.-China transformation

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump began his term by launching the trade war with China he had promised on the campaign trail. By mid-2020, however, Trump was no longer the public face of China policy-making as he became increasingly consumed with domestic troubles, giving his top aides carte blanche to pursue a cascade of tough-on-China policies.

Why it matters: Trump alone did not reshape the China relationship. But his trade war shattered global norms, paving the way for administration officials to pursue policies that just a few years earlier would have been unthinkable.

McConnell: Trump "provoked" Capitol mob

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Tuesday that the pro-Trump mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 was "provoked by the president and other powerful people."

Why it matters: Trump was impeached by the House last week for "incitement of insurrection." McConnell has not said how he will vote in Trump's coming Senate impeachment trial, but sources told Axios' Mike Allen that the chances of him voting to convict are higher than 50%.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

GOP leaders skip Trump sendoff in favor of church with Biden

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in July. Photo by Erin Scott-Pool/Getty Images

Congressional leaders, including House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, will skip President Trump's departure ceremony in Maryland tomorrow morning in favor of attending mass with incoming President Joe Biden ahead of his inauguration, congressional sources familiar with their plans tell Axios.

Why it matters: Their decision is a clear sign of unity before Biden takes the oath of office.