Canada sees more NAFTA talks this week, much work remains

Blanche Robertson
September 16, 2018

Guajardo told reporters that Mexico still wants Canada to join the agreement to make it trilateral, saying that would be a "great asset".

It's not clear that September 30 is a hard deadline for Canada because, as trade watchers have noted, the terms of agreement with the Canadian government could be added to the revised NAFTA deal even after legislation was drawn up.

Earlier on Wednesday, Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said while he expected the U.S-Canada talks to yield an agreement, Mexico must be ready to pursue a bilateral trade deal with the Washington if need be.

After President Trump took office, he insisted the deal be renegotiated to secure more favorable terms for US industry and workers, saying the USA could pursue bilateral agreements with its two regional trade partners if a trilateral deal is not successful.

Canada and the United States are struggling to settle differences over access to the Canadian dairy market and how to resolve trade disputes.

He said that the Liberals will also stay focused on NAFTA talks, started past year at the behest of U.S. President Donald Trump, to strengthen "the most successful trading relationship perhaps in the world". Canadian officials also are aware that USA business and labor groups are pushing Trump to keep NAFTA as a trilateral deal.

However, Iowa Senator Chuck thinks a tri-lateral agreement will have a better chance at making it through Congress.

But Trudeau noted that multiple deadlines have been set - and passed - throughout the 13 months of negotiations.

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Mexican negotiators are pushing for an agreement to be formally signed by the leaders of all three countries before December 1st, the day Mexico's new president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, takes office.

Congress has authorized American negotiators under its Trade Promotion Authority to secure a trilateral deal.

"These are things that we're working on very seriously, rolling up our sleeves on. That's the compromise I would expect".

Canadian and American officials have been working towards an October 1 deadline as they try and hammer out an agreement on a handful of sticking points including dairy and Chapter 19 - one of NAFTA's dispute resolution mechanisms.

Trudeau's comments came at the end of a caucus retreat aimed at plotting strategy for next week's resumption of Parliament and laying the ground work for the run up to next year's federal election.

Donald Trump has already informed the Congress that he wanted to sign a treaty with Mexico, and, if possible, with the Canada, before the end of November.

NAFTA underpins $1.2 trillion in trade.

Trudeau said he has given little thought to the name of a renewed trade agreement, focused instead of "a broad range of issues" in talks that "will have a direct impact on Canadians' jobs, on our economic growth and our prospects".

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