A Bloomberg report says negotiators discussing the North American Free Trade Agreement will begin next week’s round in Mexico City two days early.
The goal is to give themselves more time to discuss the large number of issues surrounding the two-decade-old pact. Negotiators last met in Washington D.C., for the previous round of talks. Two officials close to the talks, who asked not to be identified, said the next round of talks will now run November 15 through the 21, rather than beginning on the 17th. The negotiators want to give themselves time to avoid potential scheduling conflicts. However, the chief negotiators from all three countries still won’t join the talks until the 17th.
The decision to extend the upcoming round comes about shortly after the three countries abandoned the December target for wrapping up the talks. The sides now say they’ll likely have to work through the end of March to wrap up a deal. They’ve also extended the time allowed between each round of discussions in order to have adequate time to consider new proposals. Negotiations grew contentious during the recent fourth round. The fifth round begins with discussions on intellectual property, textiles, and labor services.