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Canada sees more NAFTA talks this week, much work remains

16 September 2018

Canada's top trade negotiator said on Friday she and her US counterpart were making "very good progress" in talks to save the North American Free Trade Agreement amid increasing Canadian optimism that a deal could be reached, even if a conclusion did not appear imminent. Mr. Kronby headed Ottawa's Trade Law Bureau before he left government.

Guajardo told reporters that Mexico still wants Canada to join the agreement to make it trilateral, saying that would be a "great asset". The Americans and Canadians have been negotiating since to see whether they can reach an arrangement that would allow all three countries to move forward. The Trump administration has threatened to proceed without Canada and has set September 30 as the deadline for the text of the proposed U.S. -Mexico deal to be hammered out.

Canada and the United States hit pause on NAFTA talks this week after a meeting between Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in Washington on Tuesday. It was expected Ms. Freeland might return on Thursday, but this did not happen.

Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray also flew into Washington for a working visit. Ms. Freeland and her USA counterpart discussed the possibility of resuming face-to-face negotiations as early as Tuesday, but no date has yet been set, a government official said.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Trump mused about renaming the trade pact "USMC" - with "M" referring to Mexico and "C" for Canada. The United States Marine Corps often goes by the acronym USMC, even using it as a handle on Twitter.

Canadian and US officials have been meeting this week in Washington in search of a breakthrough on trade.

"We have seen various deadlines put forward as markers to work for", Trudeau said.

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. That's the compromise I would expect".

Smith Ramos did not give a specific deadline, however, the Mexican administration wants the trade talks dealt with before their next government is sworn in in December.

If this time frame holds true, Canada and the US have roughly until the end of November to reach a deal over these contentious negotiations.

Canada and the United States are still arguing over cultural protections, an American demand for more access to the Canadian dairy market and a dispute resolution mechanism that Canada wants to keep and Washington insists be scrapped. "Some in Congress, along side Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy, contain rejected Mr. Trump's notion, announcing the proposed deal would now not circulate the Senate except it incorporated Canada, which he described because the United States" "finest trading accomplice".

Canada sees more NAFTA talks this week, much work remains