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Officials seek 'wiggle room' in NAFTA talks as US deadline lapses

AFP  |  Washington 

Mexican and Canadian officials today appeared to brush off the passage of an informal set by the US Congress to reach a deal on revamping a continent-wide trade pact.

Paul Ryan, the of the US House of Representatives, likewise said there was "wiggle room" as today appeared to come and go with no finalised draft agreement -- even though he had previously said American lawmakers needed to have any proposed tri-nation deal by May 17 to have time to vote on it.

The remarks came as faced a dizzyingly complex workload in waging multi-front trade battles with Europe, and its North American trade partners.

Trump today lashed out at and Europe, calling them "spoiled" and casting doubt on the chances of a deal with even as Chinese negotiators were in for talks.

His words helped send an indecisive Wall Street lower. Trade worries have added to fears that the bull market in US stocks since Trump's election may have come to an end.

The talks to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) have been hung up on US demands to increase American content in cars that receive duty free treatment in the trade bloc, and to have a sunset provision, which would require the three governments to renew the treaty after five years.

The political calendar has imposed tight deadlines. is due to hold in July, making authorities there even less willing to appear to have conceded to Washington's demands.

Likewise, November's mid-term legislative elections are also bearing down in the United States, leaving lawmakers in the majority with little bandwidth to absorb a deal as they fight to hold on to power.

In Mexico, officials today downplayed the importance of Ryan's

"Today is definitely not a do-or-die date. The process is continuing, the technical teams from all three countries are working," said Mexican His remarks echoed those made by Mexican

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, May 18 2018. 04:51 IST