The Latest on U.S.-Canada negotiations on a revamped North American Free Trade Agreement (all times local):
U.S. and Canadian negotiators are continuing to work Wednesday night to reach a deal that would allow Canada to remain in a North American trade bloc.
Canada’s envoy — Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland — left a meeting with U.S. Trade Rep. Robert Lighthizer and told reporters: “Teams are remaining here this evening, working late into the night …. They will report back to us in the morning.”
Freeland expressed optimism. “We are making good progress,” she said. “We continue to get a deeper and deeper understanding of the concerns on both sides.”
President Donald Trump describes ongoing trade talks with Canada as “intense” but says the United States doesn’t have much to lose. “If it doesn’t work out … that’s going to be fine for our country,” he said Wednesday. “It won’t be fine for Canada.”
Canada is in talks to stay in a regional trade bloc with the United States and Mexico. Canada relies on the U.S. to buy about 75 percent of its exports.
Trump repeats his charge that Canada maintains “tremendous trade barriers.” In fact, NAFTA eliminated most tariffs and other trade barriers between the United States, Canada and Mexico, and the United States last year ran a $2.8 billion trade surplus with Canada, its second-largest trading partner.
Canada’s trade envoy — Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland — sounded positive after emerging from three hours of talks Wednesday with U.S. Trade Rep. Robert Lighthizer.
“The atmosphere continues to be constructive and positive,” Freeland told reporters. “There is good faith and good will on both sides, and we are continuing to work on this.”
Tensions between the allies rose last week after President Donald Trump said he wouldn’t make any concessions to keep Canada in a North American free trade bloc with the United States and Mexico. Talks broke off last Friday and resumed Wednesday.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took a dig at Trump Wednesday. He told an Alberta radio station that Canada would insist on keeping a NAFTA provision for settling disputes “because that ensures that the rules are actually followed. I mean, we have a president who doesn’t always follow the rules.”
Asked about Trudeau’s remarks, Freeland declined to comment.
Trump administration officials and Canadian negotiators are resuming talks to try to keep Canada in a North American trade bloc with the United States and Mexico.
“We are looking forward to constructive conversations today,” Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters as she entered a meeting with U.S. Trade Rep. Robert Lighthizer.
Last week, the United States and Mexico reached a preliminary agreement to replace the 24-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement. But those talks excluded Canada, the third NAFTA country.
Freeland flew to Washington last week for four days of negotiations to try to keep Canada within the regional trade bloc. The U.S. and Canada are sparring over issues including U.S. access to Canada’s protected dairy market and American plans to protect some drug companies from generic competition.