Economy

Chrystia Freeland to resume NAFTA negotiations with U.S.

Chrystia Freeland to resume NAFTA negotiations with U.S.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland returned to Washington on Tuesday for talks aimed at rescuing the North American Free Trade Agreement as time was running short before an October 1 deadline.

The trip to Washington is expected to be short since Chrystia Freeland is scheduled to be at a caucus retreat Wednesday. They are aiming to complete a deal by the end of the month so the three nations - Mexico, Canada and the United States - can sign an agreement by the end of November.

USA officials have said time is running out to agree on a text that can be signed by American, Canadian and Mexican leaders by November 30, before the current Mexican government leaves office.

US and Canadian trade representatives are set to meet this week to advance NAFTA negotiations between the two countries.

Officials have identified the main sticking points as Canada's dairy quota regime, Ottawa's desire to keep a trade dispute-resolution mechanism and Canadian media laws that favor domestically produced content. Trump made a decision to renegotiate Nafta instead.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last Wednesday he did not see the need to attend the talks for the time being.

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. Couric continued: "I'm trying to make a little news here people".

"We remain focused on what's in the interests of Canadians and what's in the interests of our workers and our country's economy".

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Talks are expected to resume after Lighthizer travels to Brussels for trade talks with European Union trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom on Monday.

Negotiators have chipped away in pursuit of NAFTA 2.0, but the top players took a breather Monday.

After emerging from her meeting with Lighthizer on Friday, Freeland said the negotiations had entered a "very intense" phase, during which officials have been meeting "24-7".

She has declined to discuss specifics about the talks, noting she and Lighthizer have agreed to refrain from negotiating in public.

President Donald Trump warned Friday that he would impose 20-per-cent tariffs on auto imports from Canada if it does not agree to a "fair" deal, a move he said would bring "ruination" here.

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

Trump added a layer of urgency to the negotiations late last month after announcing his deal with Mexico. Under U.S. trade negotiating laws, a text for that agreement is due by October 1.

Under that system, the US exports about $500 million of dairy products duty free to Canada - three times what it imports from here - but faces tariffs of up to 300 per cent for anything more.