NAFTA talks turn tense on day of deadline

Minnie Murray
September 1, 2018

Lighthizer's statement Friday said Trump intends to sign a new trade deal with Mexico, whether or not Canada is part of it.

President Trump meets with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the White House on October 11, 2017.

The comments stirred Canadian fear that Americans are not negotiating in good faith, and a Canadian source told AFP that Ottawa voiced disapproval to Lighthizer.

Trump also threatened Saturday that if Congress attempted to interfere with these negotiations, he would simply "terminate & we will be far better off".

Many had reported that Canadian officials had two options: either make huge concessions to Trump in order to make a deal, or abandon a new deal altogether to the detriment of the Canadian economy. I am used to it.

The President also allegedly said that he's intimidating Canada with tariffs and other means at his disposal during the negotiations: "off the record, Canada's working their ass off". But they are looking down the barrel of a last-minute ultimatum to sign a deal already decided by Mexico and the U.S. Negotiations are to resume next Wednesday.

The Wall Street Journal said the talks had concluded with no agreement and that Trump was expected to notify Congress of plans to proceed with a Mexico-only trade pact. This week those meetings continued at all levels. "We make new deal or go back to pre-NAFTA!" it read.

U.S. and Canadian trade officials set plans to resume their talks on Wednesday with the aim of getting a deal all three nations could sign.

Trump has been a critics of NAFTA for decades and during his presidential campaign described it as "the worst trade deal maybe ever signed anywhere".

A fact sheet on the U.S. -Mexico deal included a provision that would give big drug makers 10 years of protection for biologic drugs, and expand the list of drugs covered by those protections.

But, by the end of the day, both sides expressed optimism heading into next week. "Actually fixing NAFTA requires reaching a trade agreement with both Mexico and Canada that improves the wages, the working conditions and the well-being of America's workers and farmers", Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said. Such a move, experts warn, would inflict heavy damage on the countries' deeply integrated auto sector.

On Twitter earlier in the afternoon, he wrote: "Wow, I made OFF THE RECORD COMMENTS to Bloomberg concerning Canada, and this powerful understanding was BLATANTLY VIOLATED". And every time we have a problem with a point, I just put up a picture of a Chevrolet Impala, ' Trump said.

According to scholar and author He Qinglian, a widely respected expert on the Chinese economy who lives in the United States, the core issue for Washington is China's theft of USA intellectual property and using counterfeit goods to take US companies' market, and the "Made in China 2025" initiative. "Canada's going to make a deal at some point", the president told Bloomberg.

The U.S. president has repeatedly criticized Canada's "unfair treatment" of American dairy farmers - even though the United States has a surplus in dairy trade with Canada. "I love Canada, but they've taken advantage of our country for many years", Trump said during a speech in North Carolina.

The message was sent after NAFTA talks with Ottawa failed to produce a deal before Trump's Friday deadline.

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