NAFTA: Lighthizer hints Mexico pact may need to be reopened if delayed

NAFTA: Lighthizer hints Mexico pact may need to be reopened if delayed

A spokesman for Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland brushed off the latest remarks from the United States, saying Canada was not interested in focusing on timelines.

"We're unhappy with the negotiations and the negotiating style from Canada", he said.

That could end up hurting US auto companies that make cars in Canada and buy auto parts from Canada.

"Yeah I did", Trump said, adding it was "because 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".

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who spoke at the sidelines of the event hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations in NY, had also sent mixed signals. Trudeau's office declined further comment.

Trudeau reiterated at a separate news conference Wednesday that he won't sign just any deal.

"There are some parties working in Washington who think that if the two leaders get together, they may be able to resolve the thornier issues", said the person, familiar with White House deliberations. "If Canada doesn't make a deal with us, we're going to make a much better deal - we're going to tax the cars that come in".

First, there were the comments from US national security adviser John Bolton, who suggested Monday that requests for a bilateral meeting "couldn't be accommodated". "They know exactly what it is we're prepared to do and what we need".

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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.

The problem? The prime minister's officer said there was no meeting to reject, as it had never suggested one. "We don't have any comment beyond that".

All three countries have pushed to reach an agreement by October 1 so it can be signed by Mexico's outgoing president before he leaves office December 1, while complying with a USA law that says the text of a new trade deal must be released 60 days before it's signed.

For the first time, Ambassador David MacNaughton identified such tariff protection as a critical Canadian demand in the continuing North American Free Trade Agreement talks, alongside the preservation of NAFTA's "Chapter 19" independent panel system for resolving trade disputes. "I've seen thousands of plants and factories close".

The Canadian leader added existing U.S. tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminium, which were implemented in late May, would have to be scrapped before Canada felt confident in signing a new NAFTA agreement.

The two sides are still far apart on major issues such as how to settle disputes and USA demands for more access to Canada's protected dairy market.

Warner questioned whether Canada is wise to publicly stake out hardline positions.

The administration is looking to inform Congress of a plan for a new North American trade agreement by Sunday, which would allow Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to sign it on November 30, his last day in office.

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