High level officials from the U.S., Canadian and Mexican governments met Wednesday in Washington seeking to finalize a new trade agreement.
The session involved U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland and Mexican Undersecretary for North America Jesus Seade.
“Today it was a good meeting. Good work has been done,” Freeland told reporters after a session that lasted about an hour.
Freeland said she will continue to be in close communication with her counterparts during the next few days, but suggested no talks were planned on Thursday, when Americans celebrate Thanksgiving Day.
She refused to confirm whether she would be hosting Seade in Ottawa, even though the Mexican official said he planned to be in the Canadian capital Friday.
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday that Democratic lawmakers were “within range of a substantially improved” trade agreement with Canada and Mexico. But, she said, they needed to see progress made in negotiations put into writing by Lighthizer for final review.
The United States, Mexico and Canada agreed last year to replace the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement with a new pact, known in Canada as the Canada-United-States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA).
It needs approval by legislators in each country, and only Mexico’s congress has ratified the deal so far.
Freeland said she respects the domestic ratification process in each country.
“Where we can be a supportive partner, we are very happy to do that, and that is why we are here,” she added.
Seade said only that the meeting was “good” because “we make constant progress.”
House Democrats have insisted on changes to the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement to ensure that improved labour and environmental standards are enforced.
They also seek to change a provision that they view as a giveaway to big pharmaceutical companies.