Canada won’t concede ground on agriculture provisions with the U.S., throwing a wrench in trade negotiations, according to a U.S. trade official.
Canadian officials took off for Washington, DC, within hours of the U.S. and Mexico announcing a new U.S.-Mexico trade agreement to replace outdated provisions under NAFTA, the aging trade agreement between the three North American nations.
“The negotiations between the United States and Canada are ongoing. There have been no concessions by Canada on agriculture,” a USTR spokesperson said Friday.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly called on Canada to roll back tariffs on U.S. dairy exports to the nation. He warned again at a Thursday evening campaign rally that the U.S. may levy tariffs on Canadian automobile exports to the U.S. if Canada does not relent on the dairy tariffs.
On Friday the Toronto Star published what it claimed were leaked comments President Trump made in an interview with Bloomberg News. The report stated that Trump said off-the-record to Bloomberg that he won’t make concessions in modernizing NAFTA with Canada. The report alleged that Trump said it would be insulting to Canada when they can’t make a deal.
Trump acknowledged the leak in a Friday afternoon tweet assailing the broken agreement, “Wow, I made OFF THE RECORD COMMENTS to Bloomberg concerning Canada, and this powerful understanding was BLATANTLY VIOLATED.” He called it “just more dishonest reporting,” then resolved, “At least Canada knows where I stand!”
President Trump and outgoing President of Mexico Enrique Peña Nieto spoke over the phone Monday while reporters joined Trump in the Oval Office for the two leaders’ announcement of the newly agreed to trade deal. Each leader voiced the possibility of having Canada join their trade deal and reform a new version of NAFTA. Trump and administration officials have said that the deal will go forward with or without Canada.
The U.S. held bilateral talks with Mexico over the past year, leading to Monday’s announcement that a deal had been reached. “We look forward to having this — either be joined by Canada or not,” U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said of the U.S.-Mexico deal hours after Monday’s announcement. He described the bilateral deal as “absolutely terrific” and “I think it is fair to say we’ll do a rebalancing.” He said the bilateral U.S.-Mexico deal modernizes and updates the previous NAFTA agreement and will “lead to more jobs for American workers and farmers.”