US, Canada hold last-minute NAFTA talks as deadline looms

Trump Didn’t Have A Meeting Scheduled With Trudeau — But He Canceled It Anyway

Canada and the United States on Saturday narrowed their differences in last-ditch talks to save NAFTA but there is no guarantee an agreement will be forged, two Ottawa sources said, a notion echoed by a top adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump.

On the Canadian side, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau´s office indicated that the negotiations were ongoing and they had nothing to announce.

The attack cast further doubt on the future of the three-nation North American Free Trade Agreement, which underpins $1.2 trillion in annual trade between Canada, Mexico and the United States.

The publishing of the text starts a months-long process for Congressional approval that will require a lengthy analysis study by the independent US worldwide Trade Commission and a series of notification periods before an up-or-down vote can occur.

A spokesperson for Trudeau told CTV News that "no meeting was requested".

Despite the fact it's one of Trump's favourite talking points, the politically sensitive question of greater US access to Canada's dairy market is also no longer a hurdle, say sources familiar with the talks. One Ottawa source directly familiar with the talks said the two sides were very close, while another said: "We are close, but not there yet".

Canada and the United Stares are also looking for a compromise on the issue of USA tariffs.

Mexico on Friday evening will publish the text of its trade agreement with the US, giving the public its first in-depth look at a deal that would replace NAFTA - and potentially exclude Canada, amid a call from Mexico's incoming leader to preserve the three-country pact. "We don't like their representative very much".

Sources familiar with the talks told Reuters on September 11 that Canada was ready to give the United States limited dairy access.

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U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer - Freeland's counterpart at the talks - on Tuesday had complained Canada was not making enough concessions and said time was running out.

Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo was scheduled to present the text of the August 27 agreement, which aims to rebalance auto trade and modernize parts of NAFTA, to Mexico's Senate at 7 p.m. EDT, Mexican government and Senate sources said.

A fourth Canadian source directly familiar with the negotiations said any suggestion Ottawa would accept a cap or quota on autos exports was completely inaccurate.

The government "is still having constructive discussions" with USA counterparts, and "some" progress has been made, said one insider, speaking on condition of anonymity given the sensitive nature of the talks. "The Americans are finding that the negotiations are tough because Canadians are tough", Trudeau said on Thursday.

Mexico didn't win any relief from the USA on the tariffs in their deal, but Canada is pushing hard for it in the current negotiations.

Trump, who has already imposed tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum, has also repeatedly threatened to impose even more crippling levies on auto imports if a deal can't get done.

"Our approach from the start has been to hope for the best, but prepare for the worst, so Canada is prepared for every eventuality", she said at the Liberal cabinet retreat. He said he's optimistic the USA and Canada can reach a deal.

Trump blames NAFTA for causing US manufacturing jobs to move to low-wage Mexico and is demanding major changes.

Mexico agreed to ensure that 75 percent of automotive content will be produced within the trade bloc, up from a current 62.5 percent, to receive duty-free benefits. "But the US position is that the deadline is very real and there will be consequences for missing it". The Mexican government said the letter provided insurance that gave the auto industry scope to grow.

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