It was a passing remark which nearly went unnoticed amid the bluster and hyperbole of Donald Trump's rambling press conference this week, but the president has yet again cast doubt on the future of critical free trade talks between Canada and the US.
There's no guarantee Congress would allow U.S. President Donald Trump to move forward with a two-country deal that excludes Canada because it originally granted him the authority to negotiate a three-country pact. "The Americans are finding that the negotiations are tough because Canadians are tough negotiators, as we should be", Trudeau told reporters on the way into a regular weekly cabinet meeting in Ottawa.
He also reaffirmed Canada will not agree to a bad deal. "A good and fair deal is still very possible.
They are negotiating this deal in the interests of Canada, and Canadians support our approach to negotiations with the United States", he said.
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"There's still hope. This is good news", said one Mexican official close to the talks, who requested anonymity to discuss confidential deliberations. "We're very unhappy with the negotiations and the negotiating style of Canada".
The agreement between Mexico, the United States and Canada, as the us president, Trump has called it "a disaster" is in renegotiation since 2017.
The Canadian dollar dropped on Friday and finished at the best levels of the day on reports Mexico was insisting on a trilateral deal.
Queries to Canadian officials and the U.S. Trade Representative's office to verify the U.S. proposal were not immediately answered.
Trudeau met in recent days with Lopez Obrador, who promised not to turn his back on Canada, while also saying he was happy with the deal he had reached with Washington. Canadian officials say they never requested a meeting.
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More recently, Canada has pushed back on any new deal that would not provide explicit protections from United States tariffs on steel and protections from punitive tariffs on autos.
With the release of the text of the U.S. -Mexico trade agreement expected any day, and Mexico's new president-elect pushing the American side to make a deal with Canada, the political pressure is mounting to get a new North American Free Trade Agreement done in short order.
Trudeau gave credit Thursday to the Canadian negotiating team, and suggested the American side shouldn't be surprised by the tone of talks. "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. Mexican-made products were hit by those actions, which were aimed at protecting US producers from import surges.
The U.S. exported more goods to Canada a year ago than to China, Japan and Germany combined.
However, later Friday evening, Lopez Obrador's Senate leader, Ricardo Monreal, said Mexico wouldn't walk away from a bilateral agreement. It is not clear whether Congress would be willing to grant approval to a U.S. -Mexico deal, under either Republican or Democratic control.
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So-called Chapter 19 dispute panels, which the USA wants to eliminate from Nafta and which Canada wants to preserveAn exemption for cultural sectors which Canada wants to preserveThe use of Section 232 investigations to apply tariffs to steel, aluminum, and potentially autos.