With consultations progressing slowly, some commentators are noting the possibility that NAFTA negotiations could drift into 2019. Under such a scenario, a statement of principles would only be available after Mexico’s presidential elections.
What this would mean for NAFTA’s substance is anyone’s guess, but I think it would almost certainly raise the political stakes even higher, and probably undermine chances of a successful trilateral renegotiation. Currently Lopez Obrador, the front runner in Mexico’s presidential election, has reportedly staked out the most nationalistic ground in the campaign, vowing to cut Mexico’s economic dependence on foreign powers—and most notably, the United States. I think it would be hard to not see NAFTA as potentially falling in the political crosshairs.
The upshot is, as I noted on twitter, that the United States may not need to explain its rationale for dumping NAFTA if Mexico does it first.