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Canada's Freeland says U.S. NAFTA talks still constructive, productive

14 September 2018

Talks to bridge the differences between the United States and Canada to salvage the North American Free Trade Agreement will resume in Washington on Tuesday, a Canadian spokesman said Monday.

USA and Canadian trade representatives are set to meet this week to advance NAFTA negotiations between the two countries.

U.S. President Donald Trump said at the White House that trade talks with Canada were going well and that Ottawa wants to make a deal.

While that latter issue has been widely seen as the major sticking point, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has signalled in recent days that Canada might be prepared to show some flexibility when it comes to dairy.

Trudeau, who over the past year has faced increasing criticism for backtracking on promises, ordering endless consultations on major topics and failing to fulfill many of his campaign promises, had taken a tougher stance against the United States in recent weeks.

"But it would also be devastating to the American auto industry".

"I think it is good for him in the short term".

Trump has notified Congress he intends to sign the trade deal reached last week with Mexico by the end of November, and officials said the text would be published by around October 1.

Meanwhile, figures provided to CBC News show that Canada collected almost $300 million in July and August after Ottawa slapped US imports with retaliatory tariffs. Overall, he said, he believes Canada is handling the talks well.

Freeland returned to Washington on Tuesday to continue meeting with her United States counterpart.

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Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland takes part in a news conference at the Embassy of Canada in Washington, U.S., August 31, 2018.

"At the end of the day, we're neighbours - and at the end of the day, neighbours help each other when they need help".

As a result of what Freeland described as their "hard work", officials decided it would be best to hold a meeting.

Major stumbling blocks for Ottawa and Washington remain: an global system for resolving disputes, Canada's protected dairy industry and Canadian cultural subsidies. Eares are on the ground for U.S. and China developments but at the fore again was the NAFTA negotiations.

Canada's foreign minister is to be in Saskatoon on Wednesday to update her fellow caucus members on the ongoing negotiations.

US Ambassador to Canada Kelly Craft meanwhile delivered an address in Gander, Newfoundland, where dozens of in-bound flights were diverted in the immediate aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks. "He's railed against this thing (NAFTA) and they've been at the negotiating table for now over a year".

"We have been very clear on that, that there can not be more access given", Wiens said in a telephone interview.

"Sure, it's business and it's important, but Gander is the place that - in a snapshot - illustrates the Canada/US relationship". "We're just going to stay working constructively to get to that win, win, win that we know is there", he said in the interview.

To the south, Trump's agriculture secretary suggested deeper concessions would be coming from the Canadians over Canada's system of managing supply and prices in the dairy sector. "You can't fix NAFTA without fixing issues with Canada", said Senator Ron Wyden, the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, which oversees trade.

Canada's Freeland says U.S. NAFTA talks still constructive, productive