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Home / World / NAFTA talks seem sour after report Trump vilifies Canada

NAFTA talks seem sour after report Trump vilifies Canada

Trade negotiations between the White House and Canadian heads of state showed signs of a faltering downturn on Friday as Canadian officials expressed frustration with US demands and a report announcing that President Trump had privately discredited Canada and upset the already delicate negotiations [196592002] It was not immediately clear whether the setbacks could prove temporary or jeopardize Trump's ultimate goal of revising the North American Free Trade Agreement, a key promise of his 2016 presidential campaign.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland met with US trade representative Robert E. Lighthizer on Friday morning, and in comments to reporters outside the meeting, she took a more subdued tone. She has repeatedly said in recent days that she is "optimistic," but she did not use that word on Friday.

"We are not here yet," she told reporters during a break from meetings. She said they would meet later in the day.

When Freeland was asked if the US was negotiating "in good faith," she paused for a moment before saying that Lighthizer was "really, very hard." She did not mention Trump minutes earlier, the Toronto Star released what was reportedly Thursday by Trump to Bloomberg reported comments. The star reported that Trump Bloomberg journalists said the Nafta talks would only be conducted on his terms, suggesting that he would not make any concessions to Canada.

Freeland said Canadians would not be forced into a deal that is not in their interests House had to mitigate some demands.

"At the end of the day, we will only sign an agreement that is good for Canada," she said.

The White House spokeswoman, Lindsay Walters, declined to comment on the Star report, but she said that talks between the two countries remained active.

"Canadian and American negotiators are continuing to work towards a win-win deal that benefits both countries."

Canadian officials had previously expressed their frustration that they believed that the White House was unwilling to agree on a number of demands, from dairy policy to dispute resolution, and the Star report may have confirmed their fears. The Washington Post could not immediately confirm Trump's comments as reported by the Star.

Freeland did not address Trump's alleged comments in her brief meeting with reporters, even though she said that there had been "moments of drama"

The White House has its own deadline for the conclusion of negotiations on a preliminary agreement with Canada which is part of Trump's ambition to sign a new pact before Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto resigns on 1 December. [19659014] Trump has said that if necessary, he will move forward without Canada and conclude a new trade agreement with Mexico, of which Trump has announced a preliminary release on Monday. But GOP legislators in Congress have said that they would oppose any changes if Canada was not involved.

Canada could later be added to the provisional US-Mexico deal, but that would involve legal complications and add new review from Congress.

The process of revising Nafta could take months or even years because a Congressional vote would only follow a lengthy review process and possibly contentious debates. Some GOP legislators on Friday expressed hope that all parties would make a deal despite persisting differences.

"I hope they meet the deadline, and I think they are working hard." Senator Pat Roberts (R-) Kan.) Said. Roberts said, "Well, I think maybe this situation is on the wrong foot."

For months, Trump has been trying to force Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau into a series of trade concessions, impose tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum imports, and impose similar penalties on automobiles and auto parts. Trump has trumped Trudeau publicly and privately several times this year and even ridiculed it.

Trump has described Trudeau as "meek" and "mild". Trudeau has addressed Trump with the words "We are not being pushed around". 19659020] Despite the bad blood, the US and Canada have interwoven economies with integrated supply chains and huge amounts of trade. Goods and services sold between the two countries reached $ 673.1 billion last year. This makes Canada the largest export market for goods in the US.

Canada reacted angrily this year to Trump's opposite trade approach. Trudeau and his team imposed their own tariffs on US goods to counteract the steel and aluminum tariffs Trump imposed on Canada, fueling concerns over a trade war.

Trump has long believed that Nafta, which came into effect in 1994, was decimated the US manufacturing base by encouraging companies to relocate jobs to low-cost Mexico. But many business groups have said that Nafta has actually helped to further expand the economy in the US, Mexico and Canada, even though this has led to job losses in some sectors as factories move from one country to another.

Last year, Trump threatened he withdrew completely from Nafta, unless Mexico and Canada made large concessions, but he was harassed by business leaders and some of his closest advisers, including Agriculture Minister Sonny Perdue.

During the 2016 campaign, Trump concentrated much of his anger on Mexico, but he spent much of last year trivializing attacks against Canada over allegedly unfair government support for his dairy industry.

The Three Nations negotiations moved slowly and then seemed to break a wall June after Trump left the group of Seven Nations meeting early and unloaded a series of attacks in Trudeau.

This prompted the White House officials to focus their negotiations with Mexico, a strategy that seemed to work, as both countries announced that they had resolved most of their disagreements on August 27.

That gave Canada only a few days to get back in to meet the White House's Friday deadline. Freeland hurried back from Europe and spent several days meeting with Lighthizer.

She had several times expressed optimism about the progress, but they had all the decisions on the most sensitive issues, including the milk policy and the resolution of disputes, delays the final phase.

They met several times on Thursday, but their last meeting at 10:15 pm lasted only five minutes, someone told the schedule. It is unclear where things lay after this point.

Every time talks with Canada have failed, Trump has responded by personally attacking Trudeau and threatening to break the existing economic ties between the two countries. But every time he did that, Canadians were less shocked and more familiar with his negotiating tactics.

Trudeau, meanwhile, faces difficult personal decisions. If he decides to withdraw from the negotiations until the US makes significant concessions, he could risk bringing his country into a virtual brawl with the White House and the unpredictable US president. Even though a number of GOP legislators have vowed to preserve Canada's status in the trade agreement, Trump has shown no sign of bowing to Congress.

– Selena Ross in Montreal and Erica Werner in Washington contributed to this report. [19659033] window.addEventListener ("DOMContentLoaded", function () {});
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