Thank you for bringing that up. This is an issue that's been troubling several of us. There has been one piece in the Canadian press on this, but I'm glad that it's coming to attention. You've read the recent piece we had on the Canada West Foundation blog about this.
This really is troubling for the North American negotiations. In Andrés Manuel López Obrador, AMLO, you have a candidate of whom to say he's anti-trade or critical of trade is an understatement. He has also hinted that some of the reforms that Mexico has undertaken may be rolled back under his administration. It's populist, the populism that we've seen in Latin America before and with which we're quite familiar.
This election in Mexico rolls out July 1. The entire Congress changes. There is only a single term in Mexico. The president will change. This election will take place, generally, starting three months before, so in May.
The earliest you can finish is not March 1, but August 28. Once the negotiations finish, the administration has to give Congress 180 calendar days' notice, so you're looking at the agreement not being signed. Even if you have negotiations that are six months long, the agreement can't be signed until August 28 unless Congress unilaterally decides to waive the 180 calendar days' notice, which is a possibility but I would discount that.
You're looking at the agreement coming out August 28, which is after the Mexican elections. Then you have the period where it has to be submitted for legal scrubs and other things. You're looking at implementing a bill in Congress on September 27. This is right during the lead-up to the U.S. mid-term elections.
You can imagine that you've had an election in Mexico where trade and NAFTA negotiations, because of Trump, are criticized. You've had NAFTA used as a stalking horse, whipping boy, or whatever you want to call it, in the U.S. mid-term elections, and you can imagine the rhetoric that's going to come out of the U.S. on this at the mid-term elections. Every congressperson is going to be fighting for their seat, throwing NAFTA under the bus and saying anything to get elected again. You're going to have a Mexican Congress that will be installed on September 1, in time to hear the debate in the U.S. mid-term elections about this, and which is not going to do anything until a new president comes in, in December.
Yes, I've used some colourful language to describe this before, but “cluster” begins to describe the sort of situation we're heading for.
You're looking, then, at having to wait until the new president is in power. He needs to been in for a while, so you're looking, at best, at the second quarter of 2019 for any real progress to come out. If you miss that deadline, then you're looking at maybe running into the next U.S. election in 2020 and Trump trying to run again, not having got NAFTA through.
The process, because of the election and the interaction between the elections and the timetables.... We're actually thinking about turning this into an interactive thing, where you can move the negotiations back and forth and take a look at different scenarios.
This is something we have to think about. The Mexico we know might not be the Mexico we have after the coming election.