Trump won't compromise with Canada in NAFTA deal

Fredrick Soto
September 1, 2018

The administration had tried to make Friday an informal deadline to pressure Canada to agree to the deal in order to then send an agreement to Peña Nieto before he leaves office on December 1. This week those meetings continued at all levels.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is holding talks in Washington with Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland aimed at reaching a new deal.

The minister is expected to announce that her intense days-long talks with her American counterpart are progressing well, but that they will take a break for the long weekend and resume next week.

His comments come amid tense, ongoing trade negotiations between the US and Canada.

The president has said he is happy to leave Canada out, and move forward with just Mexico.

Lighthizer's office accused Canada of making no compromises on dairy-market access.

Similarly, Canadian officials told The Canadian Press on Friday that expectations a NAFTA deal is imminent are exaggerated and premature.

Trump, in a conversation Thursday with Bloomberg News, gave a dismissive off-the-record assessment of the Canadian position on major NAFTA sticking points that was leaked to the Toronto Star newspaper. "I think you would have to look at each cheese on an individual basis", he said when reached by phone in Vancouver.

Trump also allegedly told the Bloomberg reporter that any trade deal with Canada would be "totally on our terms". And on August 31, Trump posted an indignant tweet attacking Bloomberg News for using comments that-Trump alleges-were made off the record during a recent interview. "We'll have to see the details to know if it can work for Canada".

With the USA deadline to get an agreement by Friday, there were reports the sides were struggling to find compromise on the NAFTA mechanism for resolving trade disputes and on Canada's managed dairy market.

"We're not there yet", she cautioned. "He has brought good faith and good will to the table". She's a politician. Though bright and well educated, Freeland's life experience was as a journalist before becoming Trudeau's Minister of Foreign Affairs. Today's notification begins a process that could potentially result in a new deal by the start of December, but only after a Congressional vote.

"With good will and flexibility on all sides, I know we can get there", she said.

"We're looking for a good deal, not just any deal".

After Trudeau spoke with regional leaders, they appeared to soften their tone in defense of Canada's protected dairy sector, suggesting a compromise may be in the works that would grant the USA greater access to the Canadian milk market. "It may be by Friday or it may be within a period of time, but ultimately they have no choice", Trump said Thursday in an interview with Bloomberg in Washington as bargainers struggled to resolve critical issues. The Impala is manufactured by General Motors at its Oshawa, Ontario plant.

Later, at an appearance in North Carolina, Trump railed against the disclosure of his private comments but again appeared to confirm them. He replied that "over the past year and a half there's a lot of things that have been said from time to time". Trump wanted the comments to remain private. 'We are confident that a win-win-win deal is possible, and we're always going to stand up for the national interest and Canadian values'. But they have to treat us fairly. The administration had set a deadline of Friday for a deal with Canada.

Dairy: Trump has long complained about Canada's protection for its dairy industry, which restricts the ability of USA farmers to enter the market.

All three countries have stressed the importance of NAFTA, which governs billions of dollars in regional trade and a bilateral deal announced by the United States and Mexico on Monday paved the way for Canada to rejoin the talks this week.

Mr. Trudeau's team balked, saying that the US was not negotiating in good faith.

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