Trudeau says new deal not guaranteed — NAFTA

Minnie Murray
September 30, 2018

"Yeah, I did", Trump said when asked whether he rejected a meeting with Trudeau on the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. He has threatened to use the same provision to impose tariffs on imports of Canadian cars, a move that would likely do much more damage to the Canadian economy.

"We're unhappy with the negotiations and the negotiating style from Canada", he said.

Canada's office of Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland declined to comment on the U.S. -Mexico deal or its impact on Canada's ongoing talks with the United States.

President Trump suggested that a potential U.S. -Mexico-Canada trade deal could be called USMC.

The flags of Canada, Mexico and the US are seen on a lectern before a joint news conference on the closing of the seventh round of NAFTA talks in Mexico City, Mexico, March 5, 2018.

Sticking points include opening up Canada's dairy market to U.S. farmers, and a dispute resolution process that Canadians want to preserve.

The three nations' auto industries are highly integrated, and tariffs on Canadian cars would be hugely disruptive.

On Tuesday, U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer told a conference on the fringes of the General Assembly that the two sides had "still a far amount of distance" between them. "I have so many friends ... but that has nothing to do with this".

Uncertainty around the upcoming NAFTA deadline and an awkward moment with U.S. President Donald Trump took the spotlight, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wrapped up his visit to the United Nations.

Officials from the United States and Mexico, who have already come to an agreement in principle, were rushing to sign a deal before Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto leaves office on December 1.

The US and Canada are basically out of time to iron out their differences in a trade agreement before the Sept 30 deadline to have a completed full text.

He did, however, reiterate his threat to slap Canadian auto imports to the USA with tariffs, which experts say would devastate industries in both countries.

For all that, "Canada would like to be in the agreement", he added, assuring that it was also the wish of Washington.

Canadian officials say they do not believe Trump can rework NAFTA into a bilateral deal without the approval of Congress.

"No meeting was requested", she said in a statement Trump's press conference. If Canada comes along now, that would be best.

"I don't really see the elements of a deal", said Mark Warner, a Toronto-based trade lawyer. "We think their negotiators have taken advantage of our country for a long time", he said. Supporters of Mexico's incoming government, which takes office December 1, are not especially fond of NAFTA, which is why both countries want the deal done before then.

Speaking to the Globe and Mail, he said: "The United States moving ahead without Canada shows that Canada may be left out altogether".

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