Will They Or Won’t They Make the Deadline for NAFTA?

The deadline set by the American’s for NAFTA is midnight tonight. All eyes are trained on negotiations in this 11th hour.

It is the American’s self-imposed deadline that is looming. At midnight tonight, time will be up to negotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). While this may, on the surface, seem like something that has nothing to do with the copyright debate, what goes down here tonight could also have implications for the copyright debate as a whole.

On the lead up to the deadline, things are looking grim for those hoping that the deadline will be met. Negotiators, observers, and major media outlets alike are admitting that things aren’t exactly looking good.

In the weeks leading up to the deadline, the messaging is that things are going well. As the deadline grew closer, however, the messaging from negotiators is that negotiations are intense. Obviously, for those hoping for an agreement anyway, the change in tone is worrying in and of itself. In the final days leading up to the deadline, some began expressing doubts that a deadline could be met because Canada and the US are reportedly remaining far apart on certain issues.

While the media has largely remained focused on the dairy and automotive sectors, the agreement touches on more than just those sectors. One of those sectors is copyright. Indeed, US president Donald Trump effectively shut out digital rights advocates while rolling up a list of demands from the likes of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and making demands in the NAFTA agreement accordingly. As a result, Trump demanded that a digital rights crackdown be in the agreement.

Of course, that was towards the beginning of the negotiations. It is unclear where negotiations stand on the copyright front now. All there is at this point is speculation.

So, there is a lot to look towards after the deadline. Not only is there a question of whether or not Canadian and US negotiators can make the deadline, but also what the fallout is after. We will, of course, find out a whole lot more once the US/Mexico side of the agreement is released. The text is supposed to be publicly released following the deadline, so the text of the agreement will certainly prove enlightening as to where things stand on pretty much everything including copyright.

From there, there is the question of political fallout should there be no agreement. Is there a possibility of continued negotiations? If there isn’t, what will happen in the US Congress when the Trump team comes back from the negotiating table empty handed? If congress rejects this proposition, will this be the end of the road for negotiations? If so, will the original NAFTA agreement simply stay in place and all this drama simply becomes little more than political theatre?

At the moment, there are still a lot of things up in the air. One thing is for sure, though: something is going to give at midnight tonight and some of these questions may start getting answered.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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