At the conclusion of their first round of talks on modernizing NAFTA, the U.S., Canada, and Mexico committed to “an accelerated and comprehensive negotiation process” but warned that “a great deal of effort and negotiation will be required in the coming months.” The three partners are aiming to conclude negotiations by early 2018, but some observers say that timeframe may not be sufficient to address the substantial changes to the agreement that the U.S. is seeking.

According to a joint statement, the first round of negotiations in Washington consisted of “five full days of meetings” on more than two dozen topics. All three countries made “detailed conceptual presentations” across the scope of the agreement, including on sensitive topics such as rules of origin and dispute settlement, and negotiating groups began work to advance text. The statement said the “scope and volume” of the proposals reflects a commitment to “an ambitious outcome.”

Negotiators agreed that over the next two weeks they will continue domestic consultations and work to advance negotiating texts by providing additional text, comments, or alternate proposals. The second round of talks will be held Sept. 1-5 in Mexico, followed by a third round in Canada in late September and a fourth round in the U.S. in October, with additional rounds being planned for the remainder of the year.

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