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Trump suggests Canada has been sidelined from latest NAFTA negotiations

20 August 2018

A year ago Thursday, the U.S., Canada and Mexico convened for the start of the renegotiation talks.

Officials from each country have insisted there's nothing unusual about the one-on-one discussions on the three-country deal because it's allowing the USA and Mexico sort tough bilateral issues, such as their differences on autos.

Mexican Economy Secretary Ildefonso Guajardo on Friday said the USA and Mexico could strike a deal on bilateral issues in the North American Free Trade Agreement by next week, though he noted that the two sides must still reach agreement on the transition period for new auto rules of origin as well as on undisclosed "financial items". "And as a matter of fact, the Trump administration has even said 'we'll add extra tariffs on you if you don't play ball".

The development raised hopes that a year's worth of sometimes fraught negotiations could reach a successful outcome by the end of the year.

And Trump again aimed a jibe at Canada, saying "Their tariffs are too high".

"Ambassador Lighthizer has been making some phone calls and without talking about the specifics I am pretty optimistic, more optimistic than I have been in a while", Cornyn told reporters at the Capitol, adding that this would calm anxiety among farmers and businesses over Trump's trade disputes.

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U.S. President Donald Trump, however, said alongside him he was in "no rush" to conclude talks on NAFTA, which he wants renegotiated in favor of the United States. The U.S. and Mexico are pushing for an agreement this month that would give the countries time to sign the pact before Mexico's President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador takes office in December. NAFTA has been a disaster for our country'.

Canada, the third partner in NAFTA, has been absent from face-to-face talks in recent weeks.

He said technical discussions would continue Monday and that he would return Tuesday to continue the high-level talks.

"Minister Freeland, Ambassador (David) MacNaughton and the Canadian negotiating team are in regular contact with their counterparts and we look forward to continuing these important discussions in the coming weeks", Adam Austen wrote in an email.

He stressed that the most hard issues had been left to the end, including the U.S. demand that NAFTA be approved every five years - a provision known as a sunset clause.

Trump suggests Canada has been sidelined from latest NAFTA negotiations