US, Canada hold last-minute NAFTA talks as deadline looms

01 October, 2018, 03:55 | Author: Charlene Valdez
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The back and forth about the supposed meeting comes amid the US 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.

Freeland, the minister for foreign affairs, was scheduled to represent Canada at the United Nations general debate on Saturday afternoon.

A Trump administration official said the text of the agreement with Mexico was set to be published on Friday.

"We're focused on the substance, not the timetable". "They've been spending quite a lot of time trying to figure that out".

Sources familiar with the talks told Reuters on September 11 that Canada was ready to give the United States limited dairy access.

The formal text needs to be released by Sunday so it can be presented to the U.S. Congress by the end of the month and fulfil a 60-day notice requirement that would allow lawmakers to approve it by December 1 - before the newly-elected Mexican government takes power.

Quebec, which is home to half of Canada's dairy industry, has become an important political fulcrum in the talks, particularly since sources familiar with the effort say Canada has indeed offered concessions that would improve access to the country's dairy market for USA producers.

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In June, after the G7 summit, Trudeau told reporters that Canada would retaliate with tariffs of its own following the imposition of US tariffs on steel and aluminum. We're going to tax the cars that come in.

"Hopefully Canada can be included already in the text".

Sources say Mexico is fine with the Trudeau government waiting past Monday's Quebec election because it understands any concession it might be willing to make on allowing greater US access to dairy would be a political bombshell in the final days of the provincial campaign.

Queries to Canadian officials and the U.S. Trade Representative's office to verify the U.S. proposal were not immediately answered.

That comes as no surprise to trade experts.

Canada's ambassador to Washington, David MacNaughton, echoed the sentiment early Sunday evening, saying talks are moving forward but not yet completed.

"They are closer now than they've ever been. They know our position, and we will stick to those positions because they are important to our country", he said.

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Ottawa is also seeking assurances that the United States will not, after signing a new NAFTA deal, turn around and hit Canada with punitive auto tariffs.

When it looked like negotiations had stalled or broken down due to friction between the USA and Canadian sides, Kushner kept talks going with aides close to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, including Gerald Butts and Katie Telford, three people said.

"It's a deflection from a number of different problems", she said.

The talks are said to include shoring up protection against the auto tariffs that Trump threatened again last weekat a wide-ranging press conference, should a deal not materialize.

"They're moving towards closing the deal - it's really not a question of if, it's a question of when", said Daniel Ujczo, an Ohio-based global trade lawyer at Dickinson Wright who represents large US automakers and auto-parts manufacturers. A spokesman for the U.S. Trade Representative's Office declined to comment.

Canada and the US are still trying to narrow their differences on NAFTA, which include disagreements over dispute-settlement measures and access to Canada's protected dairy industry.

"We've said all along this has to be a three-way deal", said Rufus Yerxa, president of the National Foreign Trade Council, which represents multinational corporations.

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