US, Canada likely to conclude NAFTA talks this weekend

Monday, 01 Oct, 2018

No such meeting was ever requested, a Trudeau spokesman told CNN, adding: "We do not have any comment beyond that".

The U.S, Mexico and Canada have been negotiating for 13 months to modernize the three-country North American Free Trade Agreement, which dates to 1994. "I must be honest with you, we're not getting along at all with their negotiators".

The official declined to be named because the matter has not yet been made public.

The United States and Mexico want to push their deal through their respective legislatures before Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador takes office on December 1.

Trump is under increasing pressure from U.S. business groups and some members of the U.S. Congress, who say excluding Canada from NAFTA would play havoc with the three member nations' increasingly integrated economies.

"They have to be fair", Trump said on Saturday during a rally in Wheeling, West Virginia, complaining about Canada's dairy tariffs, which have been a particularly sore point for him.

Mexican Senator Ricardo Monreal said on Twitter the text would be released simultaneously in Mexico and the United States. The U.S. wants to scrap that mechanism.

"There's still hope. This is good news", said one Mexican official close to the talks, who requested anonymity to discuss confidential deliberations.

- Tough talks - US President Donald Trump has been pushing for a complete overhaul of the 25-year-old continental trade deal, which he says has been a "rip-off" for the United States.

Trudeau also says the Americans are finding NAFTA talks hard because Canadians are "tough negotiators".

Trump has already imposed tariffs on Canadian aluminum and steel, citing national security, and is threatening similar punitive measures against auto exports.

Canadian negotiators are still meeting behind closed doors with US counterparts.

U.S. -Canada talks bogged down earlier this month, and most trade analysts expected the September 30 deadline to come and go without Canada being reinstated. He said, "Yeah, I did".

With little time left ahead of a deadline to agree to a renewed NAFTA, Canadian and US trade officials on Sunday tried to settle differences on tough issues such as protection against American tariffs.

Trump blames NAFTA for causing US manufacturing jobs to move to low-wage Mexico and is demanding major changes.

Auto industry executives say it is unlikely those targets can be met if Canada is not part of the deal, given supply chains that crisscross NAFTA borders multiple times. Freeland and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer spoke on Friday, one person said.

The release of the trade deal text starts a months-long process for US congressional approval that will require a lengthy analysis by the independent USA global Trade Commission and notification periods before an up-or-down vote.

Ujczo said the two sides have also largely settled on a dispute-resolution mechanism similar to that in the original NAFTA known as Chapter 19 - an issue that has always been a major stumbling block in the talks - and on a higher duty-free threshold for goods shipped into Canada: $100, up from $20.

"It's a challenging task to figure that out and they're spending a lot of time on that right now", said the third Canadian source.