President Donald Trump said the U.S. may be on the verge of a “big Trade Agreement” with Mexico as the Nafta representative of that nation’s president-elect signaled that the thorny issue of rules for the energy industry seems to be resolved.
Trump emphasized the collaboration with the current and incoming Mexican administrations. “Our relationship with Mexico is getting closer by the hour,” he tweeted early Saturday. “Some really good people within both the new and old government, and all working closely together.”
Jesus Seade, the envoy from incoming Mexican leader Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, arrived at a meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer saying the nations have resolved concerns that the deal had too many restrictions on how the next government can treat foreign oil companies investing in Mexico.
“It was a rich, fun, important negotiation, from which everything emerged in a very satisfactory way for all involved,” Seade told reporters after returning to Washington following meetings with the incoming administration in Mexico City on Thursday.
“We’ve adjusted the focus very well, but without changing the content, the substance, and we’ve arrived at a solution that should be satisfactory for everyone,” Seade said. “We still need to check technical texts, and I want to be respectful of everyone, but it’s now substantially agreed, with the correct focus.”
Seade also predicted that the nations will agree on a method to update Nafta without the threat of a so-called “sunset clause,” an automatic expiration after five years — as the U.S. has sought since October.
“We’re negotiating, and it’s going to come out,” Seade said. “It’s no longer what it was for the U.S. in any way. It’s focused on evaluation and continuation.”
Lighthizer’s media office declined to comment on Seade’s statement, and another person close to the talks, who asked not to be identified, said that an automatic expiration after five years remains the U.S.’s negotiating demand. Guajardo has consistently said that he expects the issue to be one of the final ones to be ironed out, because it requires Canada’s participation.
Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo and Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray also attended Saturday’s meeting with Lighthizer, which Guajardo called “an important day” for the long-running negotiations.
Talks are poised to spill into next week, pushing up against the goal for a deal by the end of the month. The U.S. and Mexico are trying to work out their bilateral issues before Canada rejoins the talks in an attempt to update the decades-old three-nation agreement.