US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer poured cold water after the May 17 deadline for NAFTA negotiation passed without breakthrough. He said “the NAFTA countries are nowhere near close to a deal.” with “gaping differences” on a number of issues. He pledged to work towards the “best possible deal for American farmers, ranchers, workers, and businesses.”
Just hours before Lighthizer’s comments, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was “positive” about NAFTA talks. He said “it’s right down to the last conversations. … I’m feeling positive about this, but it won’t be done until it’s done.”
Mexico’s economy minister Ildefonso Guajardo also said a deal could be reached by the end of May. But he didn’t rule out extending the talks beyond July 1 Mexican presidential election.
May 17 was a deadline House Speaker Paul Ryan told the NAFTA countries for having the deal approved by the current Congress by the end of this year.