Mexico to Publish Text of New Nafta Agreement Friday Night

(Bloomberg) -- Mexico on Friday evening will publish the text of its trade agreement with the U.S., giving the public its first in-depth look at a deal that would replace Nafta -- and potentially exclude Canada, amid a call from Mexico’s incoming leader to preserve the three-country pact.

The Mexican Economy Ministry plans to post the text of the deal on its website at about 7 p.m. New York time, according to its press office. At the same time, Minister Ildefonso Guajardo is scheduled to deliver the document to the Mexican Senate, which is tasked with evaluating and deciding whether to approve the agreement.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will publish Nafta documents around the same time, according to a person familiar with the plans, who asked not to be identified because the schedule isn’t public. Lighthizer’s press office declined to comment on the matter.

The text will likely exclude Canada but leave the door open for the country to join the pact later on, according to three people familiar with the matter, who weren’t authorized to speak publicly before release of the agreement. Canada and the U.S. are still trying to narrow their differences on Nafta, which include disagreements over dispute-settlement measures and access to Canada’s protected dairy industry.

No ‘Fatal Dates’

Meanwhile, Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Friday that he spoke with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and wants Nafta to remain a trilateral deal but that he won’t reopen talks with the U.S.

“I told him that we will keep insisting on having a trilateral agreement and we hope there will be an agreement between the U.S. and Canada,” Lopez Obrador said. “There’s still time to achieve a trilateral agreement. In any case, we already agreed with the U.S. and we won’t revise what is agreed.” He said he’s optimistic the U.S. and Canada can reach a deal.

The White House under U.S. trade law has to publish the text 60 days before the president can sign the agreement, which then goes to Congress for approval.

Lopez Obrador’s Morena party, which leads a coalition that has a majority in the Senate, wants to consider the deal at the same time as the U.S. Congress, party leader Ricardo Monreal said in an interview Friday. Lopez Obrador takes office Dec. 1. Democratic Representative Lloyd Doggett on Thursday said Lighthizer told lawmakers he sees March as the earliest that Congress could vote on the pact.

Lopez Obrador said he told Trudeau to keep an open dialogue with the U.S. to reach a deal, to not rule out the chance of an agreement and that “there are no fatal dates.” Trudeau’s office confirmed the call with Lopez Obrador, saying only that they discussed “Nafta and the mutually beneficial economic and trading relationship between our two countries.”

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