More hints of United States trade détente with Canada, EU

Rep. Tom Reed attends a committee hearing on in the Longworth Building in Washington D.C. on Feb. 14 2018

The two sides have so far been unable to break an impasse over USA access to the Canadian dairy market, a cultural exemption for Canada and the Chapter 19 dispute resolution mechanism.

But a leader of this country's main milk-producing lobby group said Monday his industry has given enough in previous trade deals and will not tolerate more concessions.

US officials say time is running out to reach a deal that the current Congress can vote on.

Meanwhile, figures provided to CBC News show that Canada collected almost $300 million in July and August after Ottawa slapped US imports with retaliatory tariffs.

President Donald Trump has notified Congress of his intent to sign a trade agreement with Mexico, with Canada welcome to join the deal "if it is willing", the White House said Friday.

She said the talks were at a point where discussing them face-to-face with the prime minister "is absolutely essential".

"The atmosphere continues to be cordial, there continues to be goodwill on both sides", said Freeland, who said she made sure the significance of Tuesday's date was not lost on her American counterpart, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

It is unclear how long the current round of talks will go on in Washington.

He told reporters in Winnipeg on Tuesday, "We are better off having no NAFTA than a bad deal for Canada". Trump wanted changes that would destroy family farms across Canada, he said. "There are nearly two dozen chapters closed" in the NAFTA deal including reducing red tape on cross-border trade, he said on Monday.

How negotiations play out will determine the fate of numerous jobs and hundreds of billions in trade between the two nations.

"There is not going to be a deal - period - unless there is a compromise in that area because that is what he campaigned on and it's stuck to him and he's stuck with it", Mulroney said.

Canada has the right to oppose such an agreement, he said.

Data released on Wednesday showed the US trade deficit hit a five-month high of $50 billion.

"Even if we gave him everything he wanted - and there is no way we would ever do that - who can say whether he'd be satisfied?" said one source, who declined to be identified given the extreme sensitivity of the situation.

Welles Orr, who was assistant US trade representative for congressional affairs in the George H.W. Bush administration, said the prospects appear good for a deal with Canada in coming weeks, although a new NAFTA or its replacement would likely not get through Congress until next year at the soonest.

Canada's Chrystia Freeland said of the negotiations that: "It's going to take flexibility on all sides". "They're really hammering this out", said Orr, who is now senior worldwide trade adviser for a Washington law firm. Canadian officials had said previously that they are working on the assumption that they have until the end of September to make a deal.

Trump is threatening to move ahead on a deal without Canada.



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