NAFTA talks on autos eyed for next week: Mexico negotiator

Mexico's chief negotiator Kenneth Smith speaks to journalists at the hotel where the seventh round of NAFTA talks takes place, in Mexico City, Mexico March 2, 2018. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - U.S., Mexican and Canadian trade experts leading efforts to draft new rules for auto content under a revised NAFTA trade deal aim to meet next week, Mexico’s chief negotiator Kenneth Smith said on Saturday.

Technical discussions on auto content at the latest round of talks to rework the North American Free Trade Agreement were disrupted this week by the sudden departure of the head of the U.S. team for that issue, Jason Bernstein.

The three sides aimed to hold talks as soon as possible to continue addressing a U.S. proposal to raise the amount of North American content used under NAFTA, Smith said. The U.S. demand has been a major sticking point at the talks.

“It’s going to restart soon, not in this round, but we hope that there is a meeting at technical level next week to continue the talks,” Smith told reporters.

Officials said Bernstein returned to the United States for technical consultations with the auto industry, and Smith told reporters he had not returned to the talks in Mexico City.

Reporting by Dave Graham and Noe Torres; Editing by Daniel Wallis