Trump may seek separate trade deals with Canada, Mexico: U.S. adviser

Dairy cows. THE CANADIAN PRESS  Jonathan Hayward

Dairy cows. THE CANADIAN PRESS Jonathan Hayward

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump take part in a joint press conference at the White House in Washington, D.C., on February 13, 2017.

Trump, who has vowed to protect USA industry and workers from what he describes as unfair worldwide competition as part of an "America First" agenda, is due to hold bilateral meetings with Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron during the summit, Kudlow said.

Donald Trump's leading economic adviser says the president wants to strike separate, bilateral trade deals with Canada and Mexico rather than continue renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement.

On Wednesday, the director of Mr. Trump's National Economic Council, Larry Kudlow, told reporters at the White House briefing that Mr. Trump's trade policies, along with tax cuts and deregulation, were lifting growth, calling the president "the strongest trade reformer of the past 20 years".

Kudlow was speaking today on the Fox News morning program, Fox and Friends.

The meeting on Friday and Saturday in Charlevoix, Quebec, will be the first chance G7 leaders have had to confront Trump in person since USA tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, Mexico and the European Union were imposed last week.

On Friday, Trump said he might prefer to end NAFTA in favor of separate bilateral agreements with the two US neighbors.

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"He is very seriously contemplating kind of a shift in the NAFTA negotiations".

"I know we're going to have some very, very frank conversations quite clearly around the table", Trudeau told Global TV, adding he would convey Canada's displeasure over the tariffs personally when he met Trump in Quebec. He prefers bilateral negotiations and he's looking at two much different countries. "He hates these multilaterals. he hates large treaties".

"Canada's position is, and always has been that the trilateral approach is actually better for Canada, for Mexico and for the United States", he said. Hassett, a former economist at the pro-free trade American Enterprise Institute, would only say that the president is working "to get fair trade deals".

Canada and Mexico have also responded with retaliatory tariffs.

On Friday, just after the metals tariffs were put in place Trump floated the idea of negotiating separate bilateral trade pacts with Canada and Mexico, if no deal can be reached on modernizing the three-way NAFTA.

Two people familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the negotiations are not public, said the Chinese government has started to quantify its commitment to import more U.S. products as the talks progress.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto renewed their commitment to NAFTA last week after the tariffs were imposed.

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