The fourth round of talks to overhaul the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)--enacted 23 years ago—begins this week on October 11-15, 2017 in Washington, D.C. 

Following the third round of talks between Canada, the United States and Mexico earlier this month, industry insiders agreed that the most “contentious issues” have not been introduced by the three countries.

In round four, the U.S. is looking for changes to component percentages that Canada, Mexico and even the U.S. auto sector itself are not excited about. The U.S. is also expected to table a dairy proposal related to Canada’s supply management system.

If U.S. demands are too strong and out of touch for Mexico and Canada, the talk leading up to round five and six will be about whether the three sides have any chance of coming together.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce announced last week that America's biggest business group is warning the Trump administration that a withdrawal from NAFTA would be a “political and economic debacle” that would cost hundreds of thousands of U.S. jobs. Comments from a senior official indicated The Chamber would work to rally support for the trade deal and against the administration's hardline demand for concessions from Canada and Mexico.

Following the third round of talks earlier this month in Ottawa, all three NAFTA trade ministers--Mexican Economy Ildefonso Guajardo, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland--touted progress made in one of the most non-controversial areas: supporting small and medium-size enterprises, Indications showed that negotiations in that area are virtually complete.

Lighthizer has said that delegates made significant progress on competition policy, digital trade, state-owned enterprises and telecommunications.

In total, seven rounds of renegotiations are planned through December, although U.S. trade officials have noted that talks could stretch into early 2018.

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Additional sources: The Chicago Tribune, Office of Trade Representatives