Mexico's Nafta Chief Signals Initial Deal Is Unlikely This Week

(Bloomberg) -- Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo lowered expectations that the three Nafta nations will reach an initial deal this week, saying instead he sees an 80 percent chance of an agreement by the first week of May.

“We are within weeks of knowing if the Nafta talks close with success,” according to Guajardo, who is in charge of the negotiations for the Mexican government. He spoke Monday morning in an interview with Televisa, Mexico’s biggest broadcast network.

The White House has been pushing to announce a preliminary deal on the North American Free Trade Agreement at the April 13-14 Summit of the Americas in Peru. Cabinet ministers from the three nations met in Washington on Friday, with negotiations scheduled to continue at the technical level on Tuesday.

Major divisions have persisted during the latest discussions, including on automobiles. The Trump administration has pushed for a higher percentage of cars to be produced in North America, though it softened that demand of late in a bid to reach an agreement.

Mexico’s peso weakened 0.2 percent to 18.3288 per U.S. dollar in Monday morning trading.

Guajardo said it’s in the Trump administration’s best interests to strike an agreement as soon as possible, considering the U.S. Congress holds midterm elections in November. Lawmakers would have to approve any major changes to Nafta.

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