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U.S., Mexico, Canada sign non-disclosure agreements for NAFTA talks


Mexico City –   The U.S., Mexico and Canada on Friday signed non-disclosure agreements before the first round of negotiations to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Mexico’s Economy Ministry said on Friday that initial talks between Mexico, the U.S. and Canada to update NAFTA ended in Washington amid signs of deep division on key issues.

Further discussions are due to start in Mexico City on Sept. 1.

“This agreement does not compromise Mexico’s priorities in the negotiations for the modernisation of NAFTA.

“It also does not limit the information that Mexico can share with the legislative branch, local governments, productive sectors and society in general, in order to inform in a timely manner the negotiation process,” the ministry said.

NAN reports that on Thursday three top U.S. business groups fired a warning shot at the Trump administration, threatening to drop their support for its renegotiation of the NAFTA if a controversial investment protection provision is abandoned.

In a letter to Robert Lighthizer, the U.S. trade representative, and other cabinet members, the heads of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable and the National Association of Manufacturers said that including a provision that allows private sector investors to use arbitration panels to adjudicate disputes with governments was vital.

The move comes amid concerns that the Trump administration is considering rewriting NAFTA to allow its member governments to “opt in” or “opt out” as they choose in a move that would draw the ire of business and Republicans in Congress.

U.S, law now requires any administration negotiating trade deals to include the so-called “investor state dispute settlement” provisions.

The support of the U.S. business community has been crucial to passage of past trade agreements through Congress.

Its opposition, as a result, would both weaken the US position at the Nafta bargaining table and the prospects of eventually getting any deal through Congress.

The unusually blunt tone of the business letter highlights the growing tension between the Trump administration and the U.S. corporate community, the vast majority of which is eager to preserve Nafta and has been concerned about Trump’s threats, repeated this week, to withdraw from the pact. (Reuters/NAN)

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