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However, he declined to comment if NAFTA deal can be done this year - (it sounds like there are sticking points that can't be resolved today, including the Sunset Clause and the Dispute Resolution).

Politico, the Washington-based website for political news, noted that House Speaker Paul Ryan said the Trump administration has until May 17 to submit a final NAFTA deal if it wants lawmakers to vote on the revised agreement this year.

There's also the looming matter of steel and aluminum tariffs, scheduled to kick in June 1 unless the USA extends them.

"They have failed to reach an agreement, and the divisions are fairly fundamental, so I'm not certain that even if Ryan comes back and says, 'I didn't really mean it, there's wiggle room, ' that it's going to make a difference", Alden said. The Americans, believing the Mexicans would bend on the automobile rules to get a deal quickly, insisted on a toughened position last week and the Mexicans responded by rejecting the proposal, saying they would rather have no deal than a bad deal, according to officials briefed on the talks.

Edward Alden, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, told NPR Ryan could probably find a way to postpone the deadline a few days if the countries were on the verge of an agreement, but that's not the case.

"This isn't my arbitrary deadline, that's just the way the (fast-track trade) law works". Ryan pointed out that he's intimately familiar with the workings of the 2015 trade law: "I wrote it".

As it stands, the countries have one major issue in the talks almost settled - autos.

The "skinny NAFTA", Ujczo says, would fall in line with the "do no harm" pleas by US agriculture, but he says not addressing key issues gives Democrats an advantage to say President Trump "did not fulfill his campaign promises to dairy farmers", and others.

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Several speakers at a Washington event on Wednesday blasted the idea, including a Republican, a Democrat and two Canadians.

"This idea of a five-year sunset clause is absolutely insane", the P.E.I.

"I'll call it as it is: it's a stupid idea".

He said supply management provides stability for a sensitive commodity, avoiding either over- or under-supply and catastrophic price swings: "Your dairy industry problem in the United States is not Canada", Easter said.

Earlier in the day, David MacNaughton, Canada's ambassador to the United States, told reporters that the three nations were edging closer to a deal.

The United States is still pushing for a deal to revise the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the White House said on Wednesday, while a top Mexican official held out the possibility of an agreement in the coming weeks.

"We set out these agreements and lock them down in worldwide law, so that they survive from one government to the next, from one administration to the next, to allow our businesses to plan", Hillman said.


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