Trudeau: Canada won't back down from demands for new NAFTA

Bellegarde pushes Liberals to save parts of Indigenous chapter in NAFTA deal

Trade observers say that while many in Congress want Canada to be part of a three-way deal, they may not be willing to sacrifice an agreement in principle between Mexico and the US negotiated earlier this year.

"If we move past today without any significant progress, I think we're looking at a post-Quebec election scenario", he said.

"People come up to me on the street or in airports, which is where I am often found, just saying how strongly they support Canada in these complex negotiations", she said before a midday meeting with Ontario Premier Doug Ford, in town to wave the Team Canada flag. It doesn't make a stitch of sense.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland met Thursday in Washington, negotiating while a prominent Canadian union leader stood outside and sounded the alarm over deal-breaker issues.

"Why would Canada sign a trade agreement with the United States. and then have Donald Trump impose a 25 percent tariff on automobiles?"

Freeland was expected back in Ottawa Friday, meaning the ministerial-level discussions would resume next week at the earliest.

Mexico and Canada are both quietly taking credit for standing firm against the controversial USA position that would have effectively limited their respective countries' ability to bid on valuable American government infrastructure projects. Dias said leaving the auto tariff threat unresolved would allow Trump's administration to say, "Doesn't matter if we have a formal trade deal".

"232 is emerging as the major problem", said one source close to the talks, speaking freely on condition of anonymity.

Trump and Trudeau spoke by telephone late on Tuesday and discussed NAFTA, the Canadian prime minister's office said in a brief statement.

"We are now working on the legal review of those texts", said a Mexican official Thursday, asking not to be named.


That means NAFTA - or, if U.S. President Donald Trump gets his way, "USMC" talks, for a U.S., Mexico and Canada pact - is in jeopardy. "The text will be ready".

But Canada wasn't part of that agreement. The steel and aluminum tariffs imposed by the USA would likely remain in place, along with the threat of devastating automobile levies.

"Members are concerned that Canada does not seem to be ready or willing to make the concessions that are necessary for a fair and high-standard agreement", House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., said in a statement this week.

There have been signs of progress, including word Wednesday that the US had backed off in recent weeks on its desire to limit Canadian and Mexican firms from bidding on lucrative American procurement projects.

The Mexico-U.S. agreement includes some contentious elements, like extending patent protection for certain drugs and raising the value of goods that individuals can import duty free, but analysts say Canada is likely to endorse those provisions by next week.

Canada and the United States are trying to renegotiate their portion of the three-country trade pact at the heart of the continent's economic prosperity, but major sticking points such as dairy, dispute resolution and culture remain.

"My understanding is the USA has not moved off any of its demands", said Ujczo.

"The atmosphere continues to be constructive, and we continue to work towards a deal, which has always been Canada's objective", Freeland said. Trudeau said Canada will continue to defend supply management in the dairy industry.

Among the evidence that the finish line isn't far away: word from sources familiar with the negotiations that the USA backed off in recent weeks on its demands for lucrative procurement projects. There was no set plan for additional meetings.

It's a similar matter of principle for Lighthizer, who has long criticized such worldwide bodies as undermining American autonomy. It's a tough issue because it's "a fundamental issue of principles", Miller said. "So it's a question of who's going to blink first".

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