At the Thursday, May 17 deadline for the North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations, there isn’t an agreement in place and no end in sight to negotiations. Politico says divisions among negotiators from the U.S., Mexico, and Canada on difficult issues are driving a stake through the heart of President Donald Trump’s goal of signing a new agreement into law this year. House Speaker Paul Ryan said again this week that the administration would need to notify Congress this week if it wants the current Congress to vote on the deal by the end of the year under the so-called fast-track legislation.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has said the U.S. won’t be bound by an arbitrary clock in negotiations. In a recent meeting with House Democrats, a source tells Politico that Lighthizer was quoted as saying “he’s more pessimistic than he’s been in the past.” Trade Ministers aren’t scheduled to meet again until the end of the month at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s annual ministerial in Paris “unless something happens before then,” a source tells Politico. Negotiators are working to wrap up chapters tied to the modernization of the agreement, which includes topics like the environment, energy, and financial services.