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

U.S. President Donald Trump said he rejected a meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over Canada's dairy tariffs, negotiating style and because his people do not like Canada's "representative".

Momentum appeared to have stalled last week in efforts to bridge differences between Washington and Ottawa in negotiations to rewrite NAFTA, which began previous year.

In recent days, officials have issued a series of increasingly pessimistic assessments of the chances of including Canada in the trade deal with Mexico, which was finalized last month.

The Trump administration and the Mexican government want the agreement signed before the Mexican president-elect, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, takes office in December.

But Ottawa has resisted pressure to meet Washington's self-imposed September 30 deadline for agreeing to terms to revise the 25-year-old trade deal.

Canada is not making concessions needed to reach a deal with the United States for a trilateral NAFTA pact and is running out of time before Washington proceeds with a Mexico-only agreement, a top US official said on Tuesday.

Trump is serious about renaming NAFTA, possibly to the U.S. -Mexico-Canada pact, or USMC, said Lighthizer.

Trump went on to say that, if a new deal is struck, he refuses to call it NAFTA.

"One of the things in my many conversations with President Trump on the issue of [Section] 232 tariffs ... was his insistence that, if we renegotiate NAFTA, if we get to a NAFTA deal, there will be no need to worry about these other things".

The U.S. and Canada remain in "near-continuous negotiations", Trudeau said, adding that his foreign minister - who is leading the NAFTA file - will address the United Nations on Saturday, signalling there won't be a last-minute bargaining push in Washington that day. "There are all sorts of opportunities for me to speak with President Trump and that was not the time".

The U.S. has been holding negotiations with Canada after reaching a trade agreement with Mexico in August.

"On steel and aluminum on this point, we started off trying to have some kind of overall agreement that would accomplish that".

If higher tariffs take effect, supply chains will be disrupted and the Bank of Canada will be compelled to cut interest rates, the analysts told Bloomberg. He has repeatedly said he is ready to walk away from the talks rather than sign a document he thinks is bad.

The increasing exchange of tariffs makes it hard to plan for the future and, with tariffs on vehicles exported to China now reaching 40 per cent, there is no business case for exporting vehicles from the U.S., he said.

Under a US legal process known as Trade Promotion Authority that was invoked to revamp NAFTA, Americans lawmakers need to review the text of the agreement 60 days before President Donald Trump can sign it.

"I think everybody knows what each other's position is on all of the major issues and I think it's really a question of whether or not the USA wants to have a deal". "I think there's a possibility there to build on what they agreed".

  • Eleanor Harrison