Freeland to meet Lighthizer in Washington Tuesday

Gladys Abbott
September 14, 2018

US officials say time is running out to reach a deal that the current Congress can vote on.

"Our baseline is that Canada will join the U.S. -Mexico agreement, making concessions on dairy, but that it likely will have to make some concession on dispute resolution as well".

But even if Canada does give in to U.S. President Donald Trump's repeated attacks on the country's tariffs on dairy imports and its supply management system, some economists south of the border say it will not be enough to seal a new trade deal.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, speaking at the Women in the World summit, was circumspect about the talks, saying only that he remains hopeful.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland were unable to clinch a deal despite meeting late into the evening on Thursday.

A late day comment from Pres. Trump boosted the precious metal and the Canadian dollar where he said "Trade talks going well. Now, they've got to treat us fairly", he told reporters, and again threatened to impose duties on cars produced in Canada.

Trump sounded a more upbeat note earlier, and said he expected to know whether a deal could be struck to include Canada in the next few days. "Nafta has been the worst trade deal ever".

On Monday, Trudeau provided little information when asked by prominent US journalist Katie Couric for an update on the negotiations during an on-stage interview.

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Trudeau has said Canada could be willing to be flexible on dairy.

"There is not going to be a deal - period - unless there is a compromise in that area because that is what he campaigned on and it's stuck to him and he's stuck with it", Mulroney said.

How negotiations play out will determine the fate of numerous jobs and hundreds of billions in trade between the two nations.

"We have all been dealing in good faith", he said.

"Maybe that helps us all put into perspective the negotiations that we're having - and also put into a little bit of historical perspective the importance and the significance of the relationship between Canada and the United States", Freeland said as she arrived at the talks. But as an October 1 deadline to renegotiate NAFTA looms, Canada is prepared to offer similar concessions on the dairy industry to those that it agreed to in free trade deals with the European Union and Pacific Rim nations, the sources said. "They're really hammering this out", said Orr, who is now senior worldwide trade adviser for a Washington law firm.

With the Mexico deal in hand, and Trudeau publicly indicating that Canada's red-line issues are Chapter-19 and cultural industries, the Americans have considerable leverage, he added.

"Forget what you read about NAFTA negotiations and Twitter wars".

Experts note that the desire to make a trade deal happen is influenced by upcoming political events, including the USA midterm elections in November, a transition of presidential power in Mexico in December and next year's Canadian election.

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