Faced with his own Nafta deadline, spokesman Ryan now sees a certain wiggle room

WASHINGTON-U.S. President of the house

Paul Ryan

He injected some flexibility into the Thursday deadline he had set for rewriting the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Mr. Ryan said last week that for Congress to vote on a new version of Nafta before the end of this year's session, negotiators would have to reach an agreement on Thursday. Failure to comply with that schedule, he said, would make it impossible to complete all procedural steps to ratify the agreement.

"We'll see if they can do it before May 17 and take the document to Congress, so we could have this vote in December," Mr. Ryan said last week. "If they can not, we will not do it."

As Thursday progressed without an agreement, the Wisconsin Republican suggested it was a soft deadline.

"I think there is probably some room for maneuver," Mr. said. Ryan, suggesting that the original limit was based on estimates of key procedural steps, including how long it will take the US International Trade Commission. UU Complete a required economic study.

"It's still possible as long as the ITC takes less time," Mr. Ryan said, speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill.

Mr. Ryan's mention of the original deadline last week came when US negotiators. The US, Canada and Mexico were actively seeking the possibility of closing a quick agreement on Nafta. 19659003] President

Donald Trump

Chief of Commerce, Trade Representative of the United States. UU

Robert Lighthizer,

He also said earlier this month that this week marks the goal to finish Nafta before the rules to consider trade agreements make it difficult to obtain an agreement through Congress this year, which has been an administrative objective for a long time.

But Mr. Lighthizer and his counterparts in Mexico and Canada split Friday without scheduling new meetings, and people informed by the Trump administration say an agreement on a revised Naphtha now looks like a long-term perspective.

In 2015 fast-the alternative trade law that Mr. Ryan helped approve as chairman of the House committee, the International Trade Commission has 105 days to complete an economic report on a trade agreement that is eligible for consideration accelerated in Congress without amendments or delays in the proceedings.

ITC could complete its work on any agreement that depends on several factors. It could take less than the maximum amount of time allotted to study the deal. Or you could start your work when the text of an agreement is published for the first time, rather than after it is signed, which can not happen until at least 60 days after publication, say trade experts.

Other steps required under the fast track law, also known as a commercial promotion authority, include notifying Congress 90 days before the signing of an agreement. The administration also has a deadline, within 60 days after signing the agreement, to submit to Congress the changes to US law that any agreement would require.

The Trump administration has been trying to conclude an agreement quickly, before the elections this fall could shift control of the House to the Democratic Party, but many thorny issues remain unresolved. People close to Mr. Lighthizer say the emphasis this week has shifted towards a longer term ending that could lead to an agreement to be considered at the next Congress in 2019.

Asked if he expects to receive early notification of a Naphtha agreement, Mr. Ryan said: "I can not talk about that"

Write to William Mauldin at [email protected] and Siobhan Hughes at [email protected] [19659016].

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