Trump says U.S. may pursue separate trade deal with Mexico

 Trump says U.S. may pursue separate trade deal with Mexico

By Roberta Rampton and Lisa Lambert

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump said on Wednesday the United States may hammer out a trade deal with Mexico, and then do a separate one with Canada later, sowing fresh doubts about the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

"We have had very good sessions with Mexico and with the new president of Mexico, who won overwhelmingly, and we're doing very well on our trade agreement," Trump said to reporters ahead of a meeting of his cabinet at the White House.

"So we'll see what happens. We may do a deal separately with Mexico and we'll negotiate with Canada at a later time. But we're having very good discussions with Mexico."

Trump pledged during his election campaign to revamp the 24-year-old NAFTA trade deal between the United States, Canada and Mexico, which he has called a disaster for the United States.

However, the negotiations that started last August have moved slowly. They were initially scheduled to finish by the end of 2017, but the deadline has been extended several times as Canada and Mexico struggle to accommodate U.S. demands.

Mexico's President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has said he wants a good relationship with the United States and that his transition team will participate in future NAFTA talks. He met with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week..

At the cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Pompeo said he hoped there would be progress on trade talks soon.

"We made clear to them (Mexico) that the migration issue must be resolved and we need to have strong borders," he said about last week's visit.

"We talked to them about trade. There will be more, I think, in the coming days to talk about - the progress we're making on trying to resolve the issues on NAFTA. I'm very hopeful there."

Lopez Obrador has said he wants NAFTA maintained.

Trump is taking a more aggressive, protectionist posture on trade than his recent predecessors, which has sparked retaliatory measures from countries around the world.

The United States launched World Trade Organization dispute actions against its North American neighbors on Monday, as well as China, the European Union and Turkey, to challenge tariffs the countries put in place following U.S. duties on steel and aluminum.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Writing by by Lisa Lambert; Editing by Susan Thomas and Rosalba O'Brien)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date: Jul 19, 2018 00:05:09 IST