Canada and the United States ended talks on Friday to update the North American Free Trade Agreement in a mood soured by President Donald Trump’s comments that a pact would be on U. S. terms while Ottawa stood firm against signing “just any deal.”
WASHINGTON/TORONTO (Reuters) – Canada and the United States ended talks on Friday to update the North American Free Trade Agreement in a mood soured by President Donald Trump’s comments that a pact would be on U. S. terms while Ottawa stood firm against signing “just any deal.”
Canada’s lead negotiator and Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland is scheduled to hold a press conference at 4:30 P. M. Eastern Time Friday (2030 GMT). It was unclear whether the two countries had agreed a deal.
The Wall Street Journal said the talks had concluded with no agreement and that Trump was expected to notify Congress of plans to proceed with a Mexico-only trade pact.
The Canadian dollar CAD= weakened to C$1.3081 to the U. S. dollar after the Wall Street Journal report. Canadian stocks. GSPTSE remained 0.5 percent.
Trump confirmed off-the-record remarks he made to Bloomberg News this week that any trade deal with Canada would be “totally on our terms”. The Toronto Star first reported on the remarks citing remarks it had obtained.
“At least Canada knows where I stand,” he later said on Twitter.
U. S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Freeland resumed talks for a fourth day on Friday. Mexico was on standby to return to discussions aimed at ending a year of hard-fought negotiations on the three-way North American Free Trade Agreement.
Global equities were also down following the hawkish turn in Trump’s comments on trade.
Lighthizer has refused to budge despite repeated efforts by Freeland to offer some dairy concessions to maintain the Chapter 19 independent trade dispute resolution mechanism in NAFTA, The Globe and Mail reported on Friday.
However, a spokeswoman for USTR said Canada had made no concessions on agriculture, which includes dairy, but added that negotiations continued.
The United States wants to eliminate Chapter 19, the mechanism that has hindered it from pursuing anti-dumping and anti-subsidy cases. Lighthizer said on Monday Mexico had agreed to cut the mechanism. For Ottawa, Chapter 19 is a red line.
But Freeland said earlier on Friday her team is “not there yet” in resolving still big differences.
“We’re looking for a good deal, not just any deal. And we’ll only agree to a deal that is a good deal for Canada,” Freeland told reporters.
At a speech in North Carolina on Friday Trump took another swipe at Canada. “I love Canada, but they’ve taken advantage of our country for many years,” he said.