US-Mexico trade deal imminent, Trump says

After weeks of bilateral negotiations, the U.S. is close to striking a “big trade agreement” with Mexico, President Trump said in a tweet on Saturday morning.

“Our relationship with Mexico is getting closer by the hour,” the tweet read. “Some really good people within both the new and old government, and all working closely together….A big Trade Agreement with Mexico could be happening soon!”

For weeks, U.S.-Mexico talks have centered around the automotive industry, but negotiations are part of a broader, year-long effort to revamp the North American Free Trade agreement, of which Canada is also a member.

Canada has not been part of the most recent discussions. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau previously has said one of the sticking points is the inclusion of a five-year sunset clause, which would limit the lifespan of the agreement. Trump’s insistence of including that in the trade pact drew swift rebuke from Canada and Mexico.

According to Reuters, Mexico’s incoming trade negotiator told reporters in Washington that the U.S. had softened its stance on the so-called sunset clause.

“It's going to come out,” Jesus Seade, designated chief negotiator of Mexico's next government, told reporters outside the U.S. Trade Representative's office. “It's no longer what the United States was putting first in any way.”

On Saturday, ahead of another round of discussions, Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo acknowledged progress made but told reporters that the two countries are “not there yet.”

"Nothing is done until everything is truly done," he said, according to Reuters. "Today will be an important day."

Citing people closely tracking the negotiations, The Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. and Mexico are inching closer to reaching an agreement on key issues that have been stalling a renegotiation of NAFTA.

The decades-old trilateral trade agreement has been a frequent target of Trump, who has criticized large trade deficits the U.S. has with Mexico and Canada, as well as the relocation of American jobs and companies.

U.S. goods and services trade with Mexico, its third-largest trading partner, totaled an estimated $616.6 billion in 2017, with a trade deficit of $64.1 billion.

In early July, Trump said he plans to wait until after the November midterm elections to sign a revised version of NAFTA. The president has also indicated that if it could not be overhauled to better protect U.S. interests, Washington would pull out of the $1.2 trillion pact.