Canada and Mexico have locked arms in opposition to a US proposal that the trade agreement should come up for renewal every five years, a change meant to assure that the agreement stay up-to-date as the economies of the three countries change over time.
Over the a year ago, Mexico has aggressively pursued new or updated trade deals with other countries, seeking new markets for its exports and new partners for imports. Canada and Mexico won't stand for it. It also rejected the Trump administration's suggestion that the trade agreement should be up for renewal every five years.
"In certain cases, partners who agree to TPP have actually rejected its text here", he said. "We have a lot of trade, a lot of reasons to trade".
In a joint statement following the fourth round of talks, American, Canadian and Mexican officials said "significant conceptual gaps" will change the negotiating timeframe. USA auto executives, meanwhile, worry that such stringent rules of origin would be a bureaucratic nightmare to implement and wreck the sophisticated, integrated North American supply chain that has taken decades to develop. "Countries are reluctant to give up unfair advantage".
Lighthizer said he thought by now the sides would've agreed to issues including digital trade, telecommunications and anticorruption, and there's no indication of changes that would result in a reduction of the US trade deficit.
Despite the pessimism, Lighthizer said he expects an eventual agreement to attract both business and labor as well as a healthy majority of congressional Republicans and Democrats, a tall order for any legislation at the moment, nevermind a trade agreement.
All sides remain committed to talks for now: The next round will be in Mexico City starting November 17.
In the interim, the nations will take stock in the outcome of this latest round of discussions.
Mexico sends almost 80 percent of its exports to the United States.
But Lighthizer said that it wasn't a hard target and it was agreed by the negotiators to push into next year.