President Donald Trump told reporters on Wednesday that he didn’t want to meet with Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over NAFTA, a claim the Canadian government rejected.
Trudeau spokeswoman Eleanore Catenaro instead said that “no meeting was requested.” The comments underscore the simmering trade tensions between the neighbors as well as the tense personal relationship between their leaders.
The Trump administration has until Monday to reach a North American agreement with Canada and Mexico but has so far only managed to sign onto a deal to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico. The United States seems to be struggling to come to terms with Canada with Trump employing a familiar tactic of tariffs threats to get negotiating partners to the table, CNBC writes.
“His tariffs are too high, and he doesn’t seem to want to move, and I’ve told him forget about it, and frankly, we’re thinking about just taxing cars coming in from Canada,” the President told reporters, offering an explanation as to why he refused to meet personally with Trudeau at the United Nations General Assembly. “We’re very unhappy with the negotiations and the negotiating style of Canada. We don’t like their representative [Chrystia Freeland] very much,” he went on.
A day earlier, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said the U.S. would “go ahead” on a deal without Canada, adding that “if Canada comes along now, that would be the best.”
The other major disagreement between the two neighbors is over dairy tariffs, which President Trump cited as one of his frustrations with Canada. In response, Trump imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from the U.S. neighbor last year, increasing tensions even further.
Even as a candidate, Trump railed against the trade agreement, vowing to revise it once he is president. Most lawmakers have pushed him to include Canada in a trade deal, saying that a bilateral NAFTA raises “serious” legal doubts.