MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico’s economy minister said on Tuesday that he saw diminishing chances for a new North American Free Trade Agreement ahead of a May 17 deadline to present a deal that could be signed by the current U.S. Congress.
U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan has said that the Republican-controlled Congress would need to be notified of a new NAFTA deal by Thursday to give lawmakers a chance of approving it before a newly elected Congress takes over in January.
“It is not easy, we do not think we will have it by Thursday,” Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo told broadcaster Televisa.
“We will keep negotiating, and in the moment that we have a good negotiation, we can close the deal ... independent of which Congress (the current or new) that will vote on it,” he said.
Negotiators from the United States, Mexico and Canada have been in intense talks since last month to try to reach a deal before upcoming U.S. congressional elections. Mexico’s presidential vote on July 1 also complicates talks.
Uncertainty over the future of NAFTA and the election has put pressure on the Mexican peso, Guajardo said.
Mexico’s peso sank to its weakest level in over a year on Tuesday and the country’s benchmark stock index fell about 1 percent to its lowest since early April.
“There are different moments to close the negotiation,” Guajardo said. “It could be before the Mexican election on July 1, it could be just after.”
Leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is leading polls to win the presidential race, and his pick