Published: Thu, September 27, 2018
Markets | By Otis Pena

Canada deal in doubt; focus shifts to Japan trade talks

Canada deal in doubt; focus shifts to Japan trade talks

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says there's a good reason Americans are finding a NAFTA deal hard to reach. "We don't like their representative very much", Trump said in an apparent reference to Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland.

"His tariffs are too high and he doesn't seem to want to move and I've told him forget about it", Trump said of Trudeau. "That's the big one".

Officials in the Prime Minister's Office disputed the president's statement - insisting for the second time this week that they did not request a meeting and declining further comment.

The back and forth about the supposed meeting comes amid the USA and Canada's acrimonious renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, and follows months of souring relations between the two North American neighbors. "We're going to keep focusing on trying to get to the right deal for Canadians", added Trudeau. "We think their negotiators have taken advantage of our country for a long time", Mr Trump said.

Mexico and the US sealed a new trade deal after the threat of sanctions forced both sides into an agreement.

Remaining sticking points concern Canada's state-managed system of dairy production, protections for Canadian cultural industries and provisions for resolving dispute that arise among NAFTA partners, which Trump is seeking to eliminate. "I have so many friends ... but that has nothing to do with this".

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"I don't like NAFTA". The president said it would be called "USM", for the USA and Mexico, instead of "USMC", and offered blunt criticism of the Canadian team engaged in the talks.

Canada has nevertheless rejected the mounting pressure from the United States, and indicated it was possible the countries may fail to conclude a pact. He said that's why the USA had an average eight hundred billion dollars a year in trade losses over five or six years.

The U.S. has suggested it will forge a new NAFTA deal with just Mexico if it fails to reach an accord with its northern neighbor.

Meanwhile, Trudeau is downplaying what some viewed as an awkward handshake with Trump. It's been very bad for the United States. The U.S. president stayed seated as he extended his hand for a cursory handshake. The deal, if enacted, would not be almost as disruptive as what Trump has long threatened, to get rid of NAFTA, which he claimed had cost thousands of auto industry jobs.

The deal with Mexico left open the question of whether Canada, the third country in NAFTA, would agree to the changes.

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