Friday, 19 October, 2018

President Trump's tough stance on trade forces Mexico, Canada to make choices

Elsie Buchanan | 26 September, 2018, 22:43

Trudeau was asked about US trade ambassador Robert Lighthizer's recent glum assessment of the talks, which remain deadlocked over issues like dispute resolution, access to Canada's dairy market and the so-called Section 232 tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum.

"The fact is, Canada is not making concessions in areas where we think they're essential", Lighthizer said.

Asked if a good deal is possible, even if the USA moves on this week with Mexico alone, Trudeau said, "We will keep working on a broad range of alteratives".

"If Canada comes along later, then that's what will happen", he said.

President Trump's tough stance on fair trade practices has helped secure an agreement with Mexico, and now it's forcing Canada to come to the negotiation table.

Under a USA legal process known as Trade Promotion Authority that was invoked to revamp NAFTA, Americans lawmakers need to review the text of the agreement 60 days before President Donald Trump can sign it.

Trudeau said existing USA tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum in late May would have to be scrapped before Canada felt comfortable signing a new NAFTA. "We're sort of running out of time". "We're not going to give up - they're a huge trading partner of the United States". "Our focus is the substance, not timelines".

"One of the things in my many conversations with President Trump on the issue of 232 tariffs ... was his insistence that while if we renegotiate NAFTA, if we get to a NAFTA deal, there will be no need to worry about these other things", Trudeau told a news conference at the United Nations.

"The leaders exchanged points of view on the process of renegotiation of NAFTA", said Sanchez.

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Lighthizer was speaking at the Concordia Summit in NY held on September 25.

Trudeau's interactions with the mercurial US president have been a subject of great curiosity over the course of his three days at the General Assembly.

President Donald Trump has informed Congress he intends to sign a new deal, with or without Canada, by late November before Mexico's new president takes office.

Trump has demanded major changes to NAFTA, which he has said caused US manufacturing jobs to move to low-wage Mexico.

Whether the USA could actually proceed with a separate bilateral deal with Mexico, absent Canada, is a matter of debate.

"We will keep working as long as it takes to get to the right deal for Canada", Trudeau told reporters at the United Nations.

Trudeau, who has repeatedly stated he would rather walk away from NAFTA than sign a bad deal, spoke before Lighthizer at an event hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations in NY and took a more cautious tone. Both economies depend heavily on U.S. customers, with Mexico sending about 80 percent of exports to the United States and Canada sending about 75 percent.

If differences with Ottawa can not be resolved by then, the Trump administration will ask Congress to approve a Mexico-only deal, he said. "I think there's a possibility there to build on what they agreed".

Mr. Lighthizer also suggested that Canada and Mexico can not expect swift relief on steel and aluminium tariffs, which the US imposed on its NAFTA partners in June.

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