NAFTA talks: U.S. trade officials meeting auto executives

U.S.-trade-officialsU.S. trade officials met with auto industry executives in Washington recently, three sources said.

The meeting is a part of talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement try to make progress on a major sticking point around vehicle production.

The U.S. negotiator handling ‘rules of origin’ for automobiles, Jason Bernstein, unexpectedly returned to Washington for consultations soon after the seventh round of NAFTA talks between the United States, Mexico and Canada began in Mexico City on Sunday.

Three people familiar with the matter said representatives from the office of U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer would hold separate meetings with executives from Ford and General Motors on Tuesday afternoon.

USTR declined to comment.

Ford said in a statement it had an ongoing dialogue about the importance of NAFTA with the government, with an emphasis on enforceable rules prohibiting currency manipulation.

A GM spokesman said: “These regular meetings with USTR happen in the context of any major trade agreement to assure that GM’s point of view is heard.”

The GM meeting lasted less than an hour and was a routine meeting that did not discuss any major breakthroughs or policy changes, according to one of the sources, who was briefed on the meetings.