Growing possibility that US will seek bilateral trade deals, says Jeff Rubin

In a trilateral statement following the fourth round of NAFTA renegotiations, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said that Mexico and Canada are unwilling to accept unfair advantages and to rebalance trade between all three parties.

According to Jeff Rubin, a Senior Fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), Lighthizer's comments might be a nod to a new US trade strategy on the horizon.

"Lighthizer pointed to difficulties in resolving a lopsided and unbalanced trade agreement," says Rubin. "While a new round of negotiations are scheduled, there is a growing possibility that the US will walk away from the agreement and seek separate bilateral trade deals with Canada and Mexico."

A new timeline was also announced. NAFTA talks, which were originally intended to end by December, will extend into the first quarter of 2018.

"Extending talks on a negotiation with no obvious 'landing zone' due to poison pill brinksmanship is irresponsible; it imposes costs on businesses making decisions in real time," says Dan Ciuriak, another Senior Fellow at CIGI.

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