Mexico-U.S. NAFTA agreement eyed for Monday, Trump flags ‘big deal’

Mexico-U.S. NAFTA agreement eyed for Monday, Trump flags 'big deal'

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Mexico and the United States are close to agreement on bilateral issues in the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a top Mexican official said on Monday, as U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted a “big deal” was “looking good.”

FILE PHOTO: Factory employees are seen working in the plant of General Motors in the city of Silao, in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico in this November 25, 2008 file photo. REUTERS/Henry Romero/Files

When asked by reporters if a deal had been reached, Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said an announcement was “probably on the agenda,” but that he still had to conclude a “very important” issue.

The White House said Trump would make an announcement on trade at 11 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT).

Separately, a Mexican source familiar with the talks said it was “almost certain” there would be an announcement on Monday.

Guajardo was speaking on his way into the office of U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer for talks.

Mexico’s Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo arrives at the U.S. Trade Representative’s office in Washington, U.S., August 23, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

An agreement between Mexico and the United States would open the door for Canada to return to the negotiations to rework the 1994 trilateral trade deal. The NAFTA talks have dragged on for more than a year.

U.S., Mexican and Canadian stocks opened higher on Monday on optimism about a trade deal. The Mexican peso gained more than 1.2 percent against the U.S. dollar.

The Mexico-U.S. discussions have focused on crafting new rules for the automotive industry, which Trump has put at the heart of his drive to rework the pact he has repeatedly described as a “disaster” for American workers.

Still, Trump, who on Saturday had suggested that an agreement could be imminent, tweeted on Monday morning: “A big deal looking good with Mexico!”

Guajardo said on Sunday that the three sides would need to work at least another week once Canada rejoined the talks.

Reporting by Sharay Angulo and Roberta Rampton; Additional reporting by Dave Graham; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Paul Simao

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