MEXICO CITY — Mexican, U.S. and Canadian officials have agreed that Canada should take part in talks for a three-way North American free-trade pact, diplomats and business leaders said this week.
They said the decision was reached during a series of closed-door meetings between negotiators earlier this month and finalized in a meeting of the trade ministers of the three North American countries in Washington last week.
"I understand that they agreed to proceed to have trilateral free trade talks. . . . We expect the announcement will be made by the end of the week," David Adam, economic counselor at the Canadian Embassy, said in an interview.
Formal negotiations, which diplomats predicted could begin as early as April, would aim to create a free-trade zone of 360 million consumers, larger than the European Community after it unites in 1992.
President Bush and his Mexican counterpart, Carlos Salinas de Gortari, agreed to trade talks last summer.