July 19, 2018
Canada on Thursday played down U.S. President Donald Trump’s suggestion that he might seek separate trade deals with NAFTA partners Canada and Mexico, noting he has made similar comments before.
Trump said on Wednesday the United States might hammer out a trade deal with Mexico, and then do a separate one with Canada later, as talks to modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement are moving slowly.
“From the outset President Trump has articulated a desire to do bilateral deals rather than multilateral deals so his comment wasn’t a tremendous surprise,” David MacNaughton, Canada’s ambassador to the United States, told Reuters.
“(NAFTA) is a tripartite agreement, we’d like to keep it that way… I am still fully confident we are going to end up with a trilateral deal and not two separate bilateral deals,” he told a televised news conference in New Brunswick.
Hanging over the NAFTA talks is Trump’s threat to impose tariffs on auto imports, which would hit the highly integrated North American car and light truck industry.
MacNaughton told Reuters he was encouraged that major firms in the United States were now starting to speak out against the idea.