WASHINGTON – Trade negotiations between the United States and Canada tightened on Friday morning as both countries struggled to reach agreement on several key issues and President Trump continued to denounce Canada and its trading practices.
The Sudden Rocky Spot Comes After days of optimism from negotiators in both countries, the prospect of stalling the recent negotiations to salvage the North American Free Trade Agreement could stall.
The Trump administration had set a Friday to make an agreement with Canada with a bilateral trade pact with Mexico only to continue if an agreement between the three countries could not be reached. After three days of marathon meetings and optimism about an agreement, tensions between Canada and the United States became apparent on Friday morning.
"Negotiations between the United States and Canada are ongoing," a spokeswoman for the United States Commerce Representative said in a statement. "There were no concessions from Canada in terms of agriculture."
The public statement was unusual for the traditionally narrow-minded office of Robert E. Lighthizer, Trump's most important commercial negotiator.
Chrystia Freeland, Canada's foreign minister, said repeatedly this week that Canada and the United States had agreed not to discuss the details of the talks in public while negotiations were taking place.
Ms. Freeland, who arrived for a meeting with Mr. Lighthizer on Friday morning, said it was her. I look forward to hearing what he had to say after a night of reflection. But after a meeting that lasted more than an hour, it seemed that the two sides were no closer to a deal.
"We are not here yet," Freeland told reporters at the US Trade Representative's office. "Canada is a country that is good at finding win-win compromises, and we have said in trade negotiations that we will always stand up for the national interest in these negotiations, and we will continue to do so." She added: "We are looking for a good business, not for any business."
Negotiations were fueled by a report in the Toronto Star on Friday that left unannounced comments, even more intricate Trump revealed during an interview on Thursday with Bloomberg News. According to this report, Mr. Trump said he had no plans to make concessions to Canada and that any agreement would be "completely on our terms".
Addressing the authenticity of the quotes, Lindsay Walters, a White House spokeswoman, said
"Canadian and American negotiators are continuing to work towards a win-win deal that will benefit both countries," said Mrs. Walters. Freeland said she believes Mr. Lighthizer was looking for a win-win agreement, but took a long break before answering when the United States negotiated in good faith.
At a rally in Indiana on Thursday night, Mr. Trump expressed his frustration with Canada and its dairy products. The President accused Canada of not treating the United States fairly and said that if the negotiations failed, he would penalize Canada with car fares.
"If that does not happen, we will make the cars from Canada liable for duty, and that will be even better," said Trump, complaining about the injustice of the Canadian milk fares. "But I think it's going to happen, and we've really developed a very good relationship."
Negotiators have worked around the clock to resolve their last disagreements. But last night, talks between the United States and Canada were still bogged down on several contentious issues, including Canada's dairy sector, its rules on films, books and other media, and a mechanism for settling trade disputes between the two countries, the people
Canada has insisted on protection for its publishing and broadcasting industries, on concerns that these companies would be overwhelmed by the much larger US market. It has also resisted Trump's demands for reform of his dairy industry. Unlike the United States, which subsidizes farmers directly, Canada uses a supply management system to regulate import volumes and keep prices stable for its farmers.
Canada has given foreign countries more access to its dairy market in past trading. The agricultural corporations and agricultural experts said the negotiators were ready to get involved However, these offers have missed the wide access and comprehensive reforms demanded by the Trump Administration.
The countries also argue over a provision of Nafta, known as Chapter 19, that allows foreign countries to attack the duties of the United States, impose dumping on them and unfair subsidies. US officials confirmed that they had eliminated the provision in their agreement with Mexico, but Canadians insisted that it is necessary to protect industries, including timber, from unfair judgments in the United States.
Canada, like Mexico, has also worked to get the United States to lift the tariffs it imposed on steel and aluminum.
The economic impact of the agreement reached this week with Mexico is still unclear. Trade experts who analyzed the preliminary details suggested that the proposals could do little to significantly reduce the United States trade deficit with Mexico, which was a source of anger for Trump.
The new regulations require more domestic content from carmakers and higher wages will most likely increase prices for consumers and could open up new opportunities for car manufacturers in Europe and Asia to gain a competitive advantage in the United States.
The Friday deadline should allow the deal to close before Mexico's new government takes power in December and trumps Trump, whom he can defend before the November midterm elections.
But the agreement is far from final, even though it will be sent to Congress on Friday to receive a final vote by next year
. Trump was scheduled to leave Washington for an event in North Carolina around noon on Friday, providing a narrow window for the public celebration of a deal with Canada in the White House.