Talks to revise the North American Free Trade Agreement will go into next year amid clashes over how best to change the deal, top officials said Tuesday.
In a joint statement following the fourth round of talks, officials from the U.S., Canada and Mexico said "significant conceptual gaps" will change the negotiating time frame. The countries will schedule more negotiating rounds "through the first quarter of 2018" after new proposals "created challenges," the officials announced.
The three countries wanted to renegotiate the deal before the end of the year. A fifth round of negotiations in Mexico City will be delayed until Nov. 17 so negotiators can consider the proposals.
After the round of talks concluded, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told reporters that the U.S. is not taking active steps to withdraw from NAFTA despite the disagreements. He added that he will consult with President Donald Trump about the next steps.
A joint statement Tuesday from Lighthizer, Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland following a meeting highlighted progress and the desire to reach a deal to rework the agreement.
But individual remarks delivered after the joint statement were decidedly more pessimistic about finding common ground.
"Frankly, I am surprised and disappointed by the resistance to change by our negotiating partners on both fronts," Lighthizer said.
Some proposals put forward would "turn back the clock" and potentially "run counter" to World Trade Organization rules, Freeland said.
Guajardo, for his part, said that in order to reach a "fruitful" agreement, "we must understand that we all have limits."