NAFTA deadline not firm as Mexico pushes USA for Canadian inclusion

The United States and Mexico Friday delayed the scheduled release of the text of a U.S. -Mexico trade deal with negotiators reporting progress on convincing Canada to join the accord before the expiration of an end-of-weekend deadline.

The Trump administration is expected to release the text of its trade agreement with Mexico as early as Friday, launching a contentious congressional approval process as it tries to coax Canada into a revamped North American Free Trade Agreement.

Freeland, who is in NY to give Canada's marquee speech Saturday to the United Nations General Assembly, was on a conference call Friday night with negotiators in Washington, who have been engaged in intensive talks all week, a source familiar with the effort told The Canadian Press.

Separately, a well-placed Canadian source said there were no immediate plans for any more talks with the United States.

"We're focused on the substance, not the timetable".

Mr. Trump is using the threat of auto and auto part tariffs as a negotiating tool to persuade Canada to change its stance on trade involving dairy and other provisions in any NAFTA revision or replacement, economists and analysts have said.

It's also not certain whether Trump's bilateral deal with Mexico will be approved, given Congress had authorized fast-tracked negotiations for a trilateral - not bilateral - trade deal.

A spokesman for the U.S. Trade Representative's office declined to comment on the status of the U.S. -Mexico text and the talks with Canada. "And I've told him, 'Forget about it'". They only said they didn't request a formal meeting. "Canada has a long way to go", Trump said on Wednesday. John Cornyn of Texas, the party's No. 2 leader in the Senate, and Rep. Kevin Brady, who chairs the House Ways and Mean Committee, are among scores of lawmakers who have urged the White House to include Canada in any deal.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has argued that the United State would have to reopen negotiations with the new Mexican government if the deadline is missed, but Lopez Obrador's comments appear to call that into question. Senior political advisers have joined them at the bargaining table, including top staffers in the Prime Minister's Office, Trump's son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, and the countries' ambassadors, Canada's David MacNaughton and his US counterpart, Kelly Craft. "There's a potential landing strip in all of the negotiated areas".

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Yet people close to Trudeau acknowledge that it is quite possible Trump might slap tariffs on Canadian autos, which would have major consequences.

"They should have seen the text by now as part of earlier negotiations, as well as more recent bilateral negotiations", she said.

"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.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tried a few times to speak with President Donald Trump on the sidelines of United Nations meetings, a USA official says, but Trump avoided the Canadian leader because of a standoff in trade talks.

"It's a deflection from a number of different problems", she said.

Including Canada, U.S. companies' top export market, is considered essential to making a political and economic success of any new North American trade deal.

The U.S. exported more goods to Canada a year ago than to China, Japan and Germany combined.

'He said the negotiations were very hard, that it might not be possible (to reach a three-way deal), but that they (Canada) had made a proposal, ' he said. Some Democrats said they could not support a NAFTA trade deal without Canada. The United States has said Mexico agreed to eliminate a system of settlement panels to arbitrate disputes over anti-dumping and anti-dumping tariffs.

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