NAFTA renegotiations are 'far from being completed,' says Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross

  • Trump's Commerce secretary does say some progress has been made on easier provisions.
  • "It's definitely a possibility" that the president would exit the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, says Ross.
  • Ross downplays the possibility rejoining TPP, even though Trump cracked open the door under certain conditions last week.

The efforts to renegotiate NAFTA are "far from being completed at this point," Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said on CNBC Wednesday.

Ross told "Squawk Box" without being specific that some progress has been made on easier provisions, but "very little has been done on the hard issues."

Without mentioning specific trade free arrangements such as NAFTA or the Trans-Pacific Partnership, President Donald Trump used his State of the Union address Tuesday night to talk about America turning the page "on decades of unfair trade deals that sacrificed our prosperity and shipped away our companies."

However, Trump has also repeatedly said he would pull out of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico if he thought it would lead to a better deal the United States. The trade pact was negotiated by Republican President George H.W. Bush and implemented by Democratic President Bill Clinton.

"It's definitely a possibility" that the president would exit the agreement, said Ross, a key player in the Trump administration's bid to overhaul NAFTA. A final renegotiated deal "will either be 100 percent or zero percent" acceptable, he added. "It won't be some percentage in between."

At the conclusion of the sixth round of talks in Montreal on Monday, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer warned the process was still moving too slowly on U.S. priorities.

The next series of talks are to begin on Feb. 26 in Mexico City.

However, there's speculation that the bid to salvage the $1.2 trillion free-trade pact will continue beyond an end of March deadline, which was set to avoid Mexico's presidential race.

On the Trans-Pacific Partnership front, Ross on Wednesday played down the possibility that the U.S. would rejoin the multilateral group. Trump pulled out of TPP last year, but in a CNBC interview last week he opened the door to rejoining it.

"Remember, they don't have their act together among themselves," he said. "The so-called Group of 11 is not completely resolved on its own let alone resolved relative to concessions they might make to the United States."

However, the 11 remaining TPP countries are expected to sign a revived version of the deal in March.

— Reuters contributed to this report.

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