September 6, 2018
The United States and Canada have made progress in talks to revise the North American Free Trade Agreement, and officials from the two sides will work together into the night to flesh out areas for further discussion, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Wednesday.
According to Reuters, Freeland sounded upbeat as she emerged from a day of talks with top U.S. trade negotiator Robert Lighthizer, although she cautioned that no trade deal was done until the last issue was nailed down.
U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to push ahead with a bilateral deal with Mexico, effectively killing the almost 25-year-old three-country pact, which covers $1.2 trillion in trade. The United States and Mexico reached an agreement on overhauling NAFTA at the beginning of last week, turning up the pressure on Canada to agree to new terms.
“We sent them (the officials) a number of issues to work on and they will report back to us in the morning, and we will then continue our negotiations,” Freeland told reporters on leaving the U.S. Trade Representative’s office in Washington on Wednesday.
Trump sounded a more upbeat note earlier, and said he expected to know whether a deal could be struck to include Canada in the next few days.
Neither Freeland nor Trump spelled out areas of disagreement and neither detailed the progress that had been made. Lighthizer did not speak to the press or issue a statement.
Wednesday was the first day that talks between the two countries resumed after four intensive days of talks last week ended on Friday without a deal after the mood soured.
Canada wants a permanent exemption from Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs and the threat of auto tariffs to be removed. It also wants to continue protections for its dairy industry and defend lumber exports to the United States, which have been hit with duties.