If NAFTA deal isn't reached quickly, 'nothing's going to happen': Kentucky governor

Key Points
  • Time is of the essence if a NAFTA deal is going to be reached, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin says.
  • The U.S. is targeting a deal on NAFTA in three weeks, sources told CNBC on Wednesday.
  • Bevin believes a "modern" NAFTA is necessary.
Kentucky Governor not worried about Trump's trade strategy

Time is of the essence if a deal on the North American Free Trade Agreement is going to be reached, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin told CNBC on Wednesday.

"Nothing's going to happen if we don't get it done quickly," the Republican said in an interview with CNBC's Wilfred Frost on "Power Lunch."

That's because Canada has provincial elections this spring, Mexico has its presidential election in July and the United States has midterms in November, Bevin said.

A semi truck headed for Windsor, Ontario, drives onto the Ambassador bridge in Detroit, Michigan.
Rebecca Cook | Reuters

The United States is aiming to reach a deal in principle with Canada and Mexico in the next three weeks, according to congressional aides and industry executives who have been briefed by the Trump administration. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative declined to comment.

Negotiations are expected to resume Thursday, when top officials from the U.S., Canada and Mexico meet in Washington. Talks are expected to continue Friday.

Bevin said Kentucky and many other states need a "modern" version of NAFTA. Kentucky exports to nearly 200 countries and in 2017 had $30.9 billion in exports, a record.

"It does need to be resolved," he said. "Everyone recognizes it's an outdated agreement but one that is critical for North America."

He's also not concerned about President Donald Trump's tough trade talk, which he believes will result in getting the U.S. better deals.

"People have different styles. Some are more subtle and more diplomatic. Others like to stir the pot, throw things in there and see what happens. I think our president is one of the latter," Bevin said. "It is creating a level of dialogue that is healthy."

— CNBC's Kayla Tausche and Jennet Chin contributed to this report.