These are make-or-break days, according to senior officials involved in the negotiations to forge an updated North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The United States, Canada and Mexico are trying to reach agreement on divisive issues over the coming week, hopefully by May 4.

The millions of NAFTA stakeholders should pay close attention and become active advocates, as needed, to help assure that this window of opportunity is not lost in disagreement.

If trade ministers from the three countries can find ways forward on topics such as rules of origin for autos, investor protections, dispute settlement provisions and a sunset clause for the treaty, then they will instruct their officials to work over the month ahead to craft a detailed treaty text.

Due to the legislative schedule needed to get an agreement through the U.S. Congress this year and because of Mexico’s July 1 presidential and congressional elections, the negotiators are going all out. Agreement is far from assured, however, given the conceptual gaps to overcome.

Unless the three governments can craft compromises, the “modernization” of NAFTA will be delayed until after a new Mexican government takes office in December. The new Mexican president could take some significantly different positions, particularly on energy issues. A delay also would result in costly uncertainty for U.S. farmers, ranchers, workers and businesses.

Read the full article on The Hill...