North America's automakers try to sway U.S. on rules of origin

Source: Xinhua| 2017-12-20 07:24:20|Editor: Chengcheng
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MEXICO CITY, Dec. 19 (Xinhua) -- Mexican, Canadian and U.S. automakers are trying to dissuade the U.S. government from changing the rules of origin contained in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a Mexican industry leader said on Tuesday.

"We are in an educational phase, in which we want the decision-makers in the United States to help us persuade those who are pushing for an unrealistic change," the president of the Mexican Automotive Industry Association (AMIA), Eduardo Solis, told reporters.

As part of negotiations to modernize the two-decade-old accord, the White House wants to change the rules so that no less than 85 percent of a vehicle must be made in North America to be eligible for NAFTA's preferential rates. The current minimum is 62.5 percent.

Trump's negotiators additionally demand 50 percent of components be U.S. manufactured, a proposal both Canada and Mexico have balked at.

Last week, negotiators from all sides met in Washington to pore over the thorniest proposals of the NAFTA talks, including the rules of origin.

"The only proposal the industry has on the table is to not change anything, because of how well it's gone for us with the initial version of the agreement," said Solis, who attended the Washington sessions.

"My counterparts feel exactly the same way and we are persuading those we have to persuade that we don't have to change anything," he said.

A "very important and complex" stage of negotiations is coming up and it will be "essential" to maintain a strong stand on preserving the current rules, he said.

The sixth round of talks are to be held in Montreal, Canada, from Jan. 23 to 28.

Negotiations to update NAFTA, which was signed in 1994, began in mid August on U.S. President Donald Trump's insistence the treaty benefits Mexico and Canada to the detriment of U.S. industry and jobs. But most observers agree all three have benefited from the agreement.