Bill Kelly: Are Trump’s tariffs blocking a NAFTA deal?

Marco Green
September 24, 2018

A Trump administration official announced on Friday that a trade deal with Mexico was "very, very close" to proceeding without Canada, as the USA and its northern neighbor try to hash out a deal before an October 1 deadline.

On Friday, top White House aide Kevin Hasset turned up the temperature on Canada's point person in the trade talks, foreign minister Chrystia Freeland, warning that the USA is ready to move ahead with no deal.

While Canada wants to be included in the latest NAFTA agreement between the USA and Mexico, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he is not afraid to walk away from a bad deal.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland has held talks with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in each of the last four weeks and on Thursday opened another round.

But Canada says it does not believe U.S. President Trump has the power to unilaterally turn NAFTA into a two-nation agreement.

I can certainly understand the concern from the Canadians, but the negotiating table is not the place to discuss the actions of an unhinged president.

I worry that politics in Canada is trumping common sense, because there's a very good deal that was designed by Mexico and the U.S.to appeal to Canada and they're not signing up, and it's got everybody over here a little bit puzzled.

Freeland plans to return to Canada on Thursday ahead of a two-day meeting of female foreign ministers she is co-hosting in Montreal on Friday and Saturday.

The disputed issues remain what they have been for several months: Canada's protectionist barriers to its dairy market, Canada's demand for a trade dispute settlement mechanism that disproportionately favors Canada, and Canada's reluctance to modernize rules-of-origin regulations for auto manufacturing.

Freeland and Lighthizer are due in NY next week for the United Nations General Assembly, but it was unclear if they would meet.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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