Bet You Forgot Today Was the NAFTA Deadline

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
bet you forgot today was the nafta deadline

If you forgot today was the deadline for finalizing North American Free Trade negotiations, don’t worry, so did practically everyone else. In fact, the whole affair is starting to feel like that old car that’s been sitting in your friend’s yard for far too long. He keeps telling you he’s going to fix it up and make it better than new. “This is the summer,” he says. But you know he’s just going to keep mowing around it while it continues to rust and collect mice, so you’ve tried to push it out of your mind.

Like the restoration, the entire concept of a deadline for the trade deal is rather arbitrary at this point. NAFTA’s initial target date for an agreement between the three countries was March 31st, roughly one year after negotiations began. The May 17th deadline was claimed by U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who said Congress had to be notified under the Trade Promotion Authority statute.

“We need to receive the notice of intent to sign soon in order to pass it this year,” explained Ryan’s office. “This is not a statutory deadline, but a timeline and calendar deadline.”

Basically, Congress wants to influence the president and NAFTA negotiators to conclude talks swiftly and reach an agreement before midterm elections. But Mexican officials warned everyone not to get their hopes up. “The possibility of having the entire negotiation done by Thursday isn’t easy, we don’t think it will happen by Thursday,” said Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo earlier this week.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer followed up by telling lawmakers in a meeting on Wednesday that he didn’t believe any agreement could be reached by then or even in the near future, Bloomberg reports. “He was not optimistic this was all going to get wrapped up in the next 24 hours, to be sure,” said Representative Ron Kind of (D-Wisconsin). “He felt there was some back-sliding going on with Mexico, and Canada, to a certain extent.”

One of the biggest points of contention between the three nations is rules of origin for automakers, which dictate how much of a vehicle’s individual components need to stem from North American sources to be able to be traded without tariffs. The United States revised its initial proposed increase (from 62.5 to 85 percent of a vehicle’s overall content) after noticing how poorly it went over. The new proposal applies a 75 percent requirement on major components and allows for lesser parts to maintain the existing NAFTA mandates.

Mexico hates the idea. Canada is also not particularly enthusiastic, but at least expressed a willingness to entertain the new proposal. Like the United States, Canada seems interested in passing some kind of agreement before the Mexican presidential election in July. While the same should go for the current administration in Mexico, the country has begun dragging its feet on trade talks over the last few months, especially after the U.S. said it would have to pay its workers higher wages. Very little progress has been made in 2018, and the Mexican auto manufacturing industry has started voicing serious opposition to the content rules of origin proposed by the United States.

U.S. and Canadian auto industry representatives seem similarly concerned, though appear less interested in putting up a fight. Could the revised content mandate harm the car industry? According to a recent study from by the Michigan-based Center for Automotive Research, yes. It speculated that higher targets could force some U.S. automotive and parts manufacturing to eventually move to lower-cost regions outside North America. That’s a bummer, considering Trump said the whole point of this new deal was about securing American jobs.

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  • Sub-600 Sub-600 on May 17, 2018

    NAFTA? H. Ross Perot, his voodoo stick, and his pie charts were right. The flying saucers at his daughter’s wedding? The jury is still out on that one.

  • Sceptic Sceptic on May 19, 2018

    One of the promises of NAFTA was to keep Mexicans in Mexico. And that failed miserably. Poor Mexican underclass flooded into the US in ever greater numbers.

  • Aidian Holder I'm not interested in buying anything from a company that deliberately targets all their production in crappy union-busting states. Ford decided to build their EV manufaturing in Tennessee. The company built it there because of an anti-union legal environment. I won't buy another Ford because of that. I've owned four Fords to date -- three of them pickups. I'm shopping for a new one. It won't be a Ford Lightning. If you care about your fellow workers, you won't buy one either.
  • Denis Jeep have other cars?!?
  • Darren Mertz In 2000, after reading the glowing reviews from c/d in 1998, I decided that was the car for me (yep, it took me 2 years to make up my mind). I found a 1999 with 24k on the clock at a local Volvo dealership. I think the salesman was more impressed with it than I was. It was everything I had hoped for. Comfortable, stylish, roomy, refined, efficient, flexible, ... I can't think of more superlatives right now but there are likely more. I had that car until just last year at this time. A red light runner t-boned me and my partner who was in the passenger seat. The cops estimate the other driver hit us at about 50 mph - on a city street. My partner wasn't visibly injured (when the seat air bag went off it shoved him out of the way of the intruding car) but his hip was rather tweaked. My car, though, was gone. I cried like a baby when they towed it away. I ruminated for months trying to decide how to replace it. Luckily, we had my 1998 SAAB 9000 as a spare car to use. I decided early on that there would be no new car considered. I loathe touch screens. I'm also not a fan of climate control. Months went by. I decided to keep looking for another B5 Passat. As the author wrote, the B5.5 just looked 'over done'. October this past year I found my Cinderella slipper - an early 2001. Same silver color. Same black leather interior. Same 1.8T engine. Same 5 speed manual transmission. I was happier than a pig in sh!t. But a little sad also. I had replaced my baby. But life goes on. I drive it every day to work which takes me over some rather twisty freeway ramps. I love the light snarel as I charge up some steep hills on my way home. So, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Passat guy.
  • Paul Mezhir As awful as the styling was on these cars, they were beautifully assembled and extremely well finished for the day. The doors closed solidly, the ride was extremely quiet and the absence of squeaks and rattles was commendable. As for styling? Everything's beautiful in it's own way.....except for the VI's proportions were just odd: the passenger compartment and wheelbase seemed to be way too short, especially compared to the VI sedan. Even the short-lived Town Coupe had much better proportions. None of the fox-body Lincolns could compare to the beautiful proportions of the Mark was the epitome of long, low, sleek and elegant. The proportions were just about perfect from every angle.
  • ToolGuy Silhouetting yourself on a ridge like that is an excellent way to get yourself shot ( Skylining)."Don't you know there's a special military operation on?"