The United States and Canada, currently negotiating a revision of the North American Free Trade Agreement, signaled optimism on Wednesday that they will meet the Friday deadline.
“Canada very much wants to make the deal,” said President Donald Trump, adding that the trade deal they are negotiating will be very beneficial for Canada.
The Trump administration gave Canada until Friday to join a preliminary agreement the U.S. and Mexico had achieved on Monday or risk being left out otherwise. According to President Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whom he described as being “very nice,” called him about the talks a day after he issued the warning.
Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland similarly expressed optimism that the two neighboring countries would engage in “some good productive discussions this week,” The Wall Street Journal reports.
However, it remains unclear if Canada and the U.S. managed to make progress on two disputable issues: the Trump administration’s effort to obtain greater access to its northern neighbor’s dairy market and Canada’s insistence to keep in place NAFTA’s existing dispute-resolution system.
This rather unexpected turn of events followed months of threats by President Trump to impose duties on Canadian autos entering the U.S. if Ottawa failed to reach a compromise.
On Wednesday, before meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, the Canadian foreign minister said the two countries already agreed on autos, but by resolving that issue with Mexico, the greatest stumbling block in the pact had been settled.
It is very important for Canada to stay in the decades-old pact as its economy is largely dependent on exports to the U.S. “The Nafta talks are a fixation for Canadians and what it means for their future,” said Nik Nanos, president of Ottawa-based polling firm Nanos Research.
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