Washington: US President Donald Trump on Wednesday said that negotiations with Canada to incorporate it into the revised North American Free Trade Agreement are going “very well”, and he revealed that he spoke this week with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“I think they’re going really well. I think Canada very much wants to make the deal,” Efe quoted Trump as saying when he was asked about the talks at a White House event. “They (Canada) want to be part of the deal, and we gave until Friday and I think we’re probably on track. We’ll see what happens,” Trump told reporters. In addition, the US leader said that on Tuesday he took a telephone call from Trudeau, with whom he had a “good” conversation about the treaty. Trump had set Friday as the deadline for the three countries to achieve an agreement in principle on a revised pact, warning that he might move forward with a bilateral deal with Mexico and impose tariffs on Canada if Ottawa did not accede to revised trade terms.
Two days ago, the US and Mexico reached a preliminary trade agreement to reform NAFTA and Trump said that although he hoped that Canada would join he was ready to proceed with just a bilateral pact with Mexico. This rapid – if preliminary – agreement motivated Canadian Foreign Minister Christia Freeland to travel on Tuesday to Washington to bring her country back into negotiations with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Trump adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner.
At the door to Lighthizer’s office, Freeland on Wednesday emphasized to reporters that the two countries are working extremely intensively in their talks. “When it comes to specific issues, we have a huge amount of work to do,” she said, although she added that she was optimistic about the progress achieved so far. Meanwhile, Trudeau acknowledged on Wednesday that there is a “possibility” that an agreement could be concluded on Friday if it would be “good” for his country, although he warned that “No NAFTA deal is better than a bad NAFTA deal.” NAFTA – a pact among the US, Mexico and Canada in place since 1994 – encompasses $1 trillion in annual trade among the partners, although Trump has called it a job-killing “disaster” for the US and has demanded that it be renegotiated.