NAFTA deal ‘meaningless’ without protection from Trump auto tariffs, Canadian ambassador says

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said US President Donald Trump's trade tariffs were

During the NAFTA negotiations U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has acted as the lead official for the U.S. while Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has filled that role for Canada.

"We will keep working as long as it takes to get to the right deal for Canada", Trudeau told reporters when asked about the increasing USA pressure to wrap up the talks.

Returning to criticizing Canada, he ripped America's neighbor to the north for a long-imposed tariff of almost 300 percent on some dairy products.

For the first time, Ambassador David MacNaughton identified such tariff protection as a critical Canadian demand in the continuing North American Free Trade Agreement talks, alongside the preservation of NAFTA's "Chapter 19" independent panel system for resolving trade disputes.

The administration wants to notify Congress of its plans for a new North American accord by Sunday to meet a timetable permitting the current Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto to sign it on his final day in office November 30.

The US made a deal with Mexico in August, but stakeholders on both sides of the border have urged for the US to make it a three-way deal and include Canada.

Speaking separately, Canada's ambassador to Washington said that on a scale of 1 to 10, the chances of an agreement by the September 30 deadline were 5.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday said he would not be rushed into renewing NAFTA and indicated it was possible the three member nations might fail to conclude a new pact.




"With Mexico, we're not going to say: "No deal" because of Canada", Lighthizer said.

"Yeah I did", Trump said, adding it was "because his tariffs are too high and he doesn't seem to want to move and I've told him forget about it and frankly we're thinking about just taxing cars coming in from Canada".

But he said: "I believe this US-China discussion will go on for a while".

Congress has until the end of the month to approve any trade deals, which means Canada may have to wait until lawmakers reconvene. "It's been long and exhausting, but I think we've narrowed the gap".

Trudeau also downplayed a brief handshake with Trump at a luncheon Tuesday, where the US president remained seated despite standing to greet other leaders.

He added that the United States was more than willing to slap tariffs on Canadian auto imports, if Canada didn't acquiesce to his demands to reduce tariffs on USA dairy.

He added: "We're sort of running out of time". "I think there's a possibility there to build on what they agreed".

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