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NAFTA reaches agreement on new anti-corruption measures
U.S. negotiators reached their first breakthrough on NAFTA in nearly three months, agreeing to new anti-corruption measures with Canada and Mexico.
By Rick Docksai
Feb 22, 2018

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WASHINGTON D.C. — NAFTA negotiators agreed Friday to new measures aimed at combating graft, bribery, and other forms of political corruption. The anti-corruption measures are one of 30 "chapters" that the trade agreement's three party nationsCanada, Mexico, and the United Statesmust complete to form an updated NAFTA deal, and they are the first chapter the negotiators have completed since October.

"With every passing round of the negotiations, more and more of the contentious issues are closer to being solved," Andrew Leslie, a Canadian lawmaker who serves as a deputy for Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and focuses particularly on Canada-U.S. ties, told reporters Saturday.

Another 27 chapters still await completion, according to sources, who said that tensions are running high given U.S. President Trump's repeated demands that NAFTA undergo major revisions or else he will pull the United States out of the agreement altogether. Trump repeated this threat in Davos last week, telling CNBC's Joe Kernen that NAFTA is a "horrible deal" for the United States and that he will "terminate or renegotiate" it.

Many observers consider Mexico to be a wild card, also, due to populist presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's current lead over the incumbent president in the runup to Mexico's presidential elections in July. Obrador has been critical of NAFTA, as well.

Mexico's delegation had been pushing for the anti-corruption measures, as the country seeks to reassure international investors that Mexico is a safe place for business. Canadian and U.S. negotiators shared their interest.

Negotiators have more-contentious issues up ahead, however. These include a proposal to require more car manufacturing in the United States; seasonal barriers to agriculture trade; access to U.S. procurement deals; dispute resolution; and a clause that the entire agreement will expire in five years unless all three nations vote to continue it.