No Deal! Trade Talks with Canada Conclude for the Week with No Agreement

Roadblocks remain as US-Canada NAFTA talks go down to the wire

U.S. and Canadian officials have concluded the latest round of trade talks without reaching an agreement.

The U.S. is moving ahead with the trade agreement it reached with Mexico, according to the Trump administration. Talks with Canada are expected to resume next week.

“Today the President notified the Congress of his intent to sign a trade agreement with Mexico – and Canada, if it is willing – 90 days from now,” U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer  said.

“We know that a win-win-win agreement is within reach,” Canadian foreign minister Chrystia Freeland said in a press conference Friday. “The government of Canada will not sign an agreement unless it is good for Canadians.”

Freeland added that the U.S. team has been negotiating in “good faith and with good will,” contradicting reports that the U.S. was trying to strong-arm Canada into accepting an unfavorable trade agreement.

More from Lighthizer:

“The agreement is the most advanced and high-standard trade agreement in the world. Over the next few weeks, Congress and cleared advisors from civil society and the private sector will be able to examine the agreement. They will find it has huge benefits for our workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses.

“We have also been negotiating with Canada throughout this year-long process. This week those meetings continued at all levels. The talks were constructive, and we made progress. Our officials are continuing to work toward agreement. The USTR team will meet with Minister Freeland and her colleagues Wednesday of next week.”

Freeland said that she wanted to reassure Canadians that “we are always going to stand up for the national interest and Canadian values.”

The Friday deadline for an agreement with Canada emerged out of efforts to have a deal that would could be signed by outgoing Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto before his term ends December 1. Under the law, the President is required to give Congress 90-days notice of its intention to sign a new trade deal.

Although U.S. officials had hoped to reach a deal by Friday, negotiations with Canada will resume next week. President Trump said in an interview Thursday that if a deal couldn’t be reached by Friday, he was confident a deal would be made “after a period of time.” The full text of the agreement does not need to be submitted to Congress for 30 days, which means that Canada could be brought into a deal in September.

U.S. and Canadian officials had been sounding very positive about the talks for most of the week. But the talks were roiled Friday when an off-the-record comment made by President Trump to Bloomberg reporters was published by the Toronto Star. Trump said that the U.S. was not making any concessions to Canada, adding that he did not want to say that publicly because it would be insulting to Canada.

In a tweet Friday afternoon, Trump confirmed that he had in fact made those comments.

“If we don’t make a deal with Canada that’s just fine,” Trump said at an event in North Carolina Friday.

Canada has a lot at stake in the fate of the North American Trade Agreement. A complete revocation of Nafta would cause a 2.2 percent decline in Canada’s GDP, according to an analysis published last week by the Bank for International Settlements. Mexico’s GDP would fall by 1.8 percent, the BIS said. The U.S. economy, however, would suffer just a 0.22 percent decline.


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