Decision day dawns as intensive NAFTA effort nears U.S.-imposed deadline

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland

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.

He also indicated having had a telephone conversation on Thursday with the canadian Prime minister, Justin Trudeau, who once told him that "the negotiation was very hard, and that perhaps it would not be possible" to find a compromise.

"The Americans are finding that the negotiations are tough because Canadians are tough negotiators, as we should be", the prime minister told reporters in Ottawa.

Ujczo said while Canada would rather have tariff protection spelled out when the deal is announced, he expects that as a compromise, all three countries will say they plan to meet again in the near future to hammer out the details of a detente on the tariff threat.

"We won't sign a bad deal for Canadians".

So, what concessions are being made by the United States in efforts to settle the NAFTA deal?

In Ottawa, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and U.S. Ambassador David MacNaughton have been taking part in an aggressive, long-distance, last-minute push to get a deal done over the weekend.

Quebec, which is home to half of Canada's dairy industry, has become an important political fulcrum in the talks, particularly since sources familiar with the effort say Canada has indeed offered concessions that would improve access to the country's dairy market for US producers. "There's going to be a lot of business opposition to peeling Canada off and leaving it in limbo".

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

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Queries to Canadian officials and the U.S. Trade Representative's office to verify the U.S. proposal were not immediately answered.

As of now, Canada appears content to conduct the negotiations via conference call, a departure from its earlier strategy, which saw Freeland racking up the frequent-flyer miles as she jetted back and forth between Washington and Ottawa.

He has already imposed hefty steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada and Mexico, using a section of USA trade law that gives him the authority to do that for national security reasons.

Sources familiar with the talks told Reuters on September 11 that Canada was ready to give the United States limited dairy access.

The text will flesh out an agreement in principle reached by the United States and Mexico on August 27 that aims to rebalance automotive trade between the two countries and modernize the almost 25-year-old NAFTA with new chapters on digital trade, stronger labor and environmental standards. "We've been very constructive in these negotiations and we are going to continue to do so and we believe there is the potential to have a win-win-win for all three countries of the NAFTA", Garneau said.

Speaking at the news conference, Trump alleged he refused a "one-on-one meeting" with Trudeau because of Canada's high dairy tariffs and poor "negotiating style".

The two sides are still far apart on major issues such as how to settle disputes and US demands for more access to Canada's protected dairy market. -Mexican deal or Washington and Ottawa could reach their own bilateral arrangement, according to trade experts. Lopez Obrador added he had agreed to do that and insisted that the deal should be trilateral. "So it's either going to be the text goes in with Mexico and the USA or the text goes in with all three countries". Wyden is from OR, a state that trade more with Canada than Mexico.

In June, the U.S. abruptly lifted Canada's exemption from steel and aluminum tariffs on the grounds of national security - a move which Trudeau described as "insulting". "But the US position is that the deadline is very real and there will be consequences for missing it".

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