U.S. Congress Needs Notice of NAFTA Deal by Next Week

Paul Ryan says he needs notice of a NAFTA deal by May 17 if the current Congress is going to be able to vote on it, suggesting talks are pushing up against the constraints of American trade law.

The House Speaker, in remarks delivered Wednesday in Washington, said U.S. Trade Promotion Authority regulations mean next week is a deadline for the Trump administration if it wants to pass a new North American Free Trade Agreement before a new Congress is sworn in.

The existing NAFTA remains on the books unless a country withdraws, which would require six months notice. No country has given that notice, though President Donald Trump has threatened to do so.

Ryan met Thursday with Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland in Washington, and the two discussed U.S. trade law and the impending timelines. A NAFTA deal “will take as long as it takes,” she said. Freeland was twice asked Thursday by reporters whether Ryan mentioned a deadline of next week, and didn’t specifically answer.

“I think the rules are set out quite clearly in the TPA legislation, and it was certainly useful for me to hear directly from some of the people who actually wrote it how they see that process playing out,” she said. When pressed, Freeland added: “We discussed how the TPA legislation could come into play.”