Six months into talks, NAFTA is still alive. Negotiators are in Mexico City from February 25 to March 6 for the seventh round, and an eighth round is scheduled for late March in Washington, DC. Negotiators would like to try and secure a deal at least in part before the campaign season for Mexico’s federal elections officially begins on March 30.
Still, discussions keep hitting stumbling blocks. This time around Mexico’s Economy Secretary Ildefonso Guajardo met with U.S. Trade Secretary Wilbur Ross on Wednesday to voice concerns about an idea floated by the White House to up tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. The worries are only abetted by the Trump administration’s decision in February to bring on economist Peter Navarro to the White House staff as a presidential adviser. Although Navarro tends to be more fixated on U.S. trade with China, he was one of the few voices encouraging the U.S. president to withdraw from NAFTA last April.
Despite all that, trilateral trade between Canada, Mexico, and the United States grew a steady 6.5 percent during the first year of the Trump administration, hitting $1.2 trillion in 2017.