Donald Trump’s ambassador to Canada defends Chrystia Freeland

In response, Trudeau's office released a statement saying that no meeting was requested.

Mr Trump once again complained about Canada's controlled dairy market, although his comments referred to tariffs that do not apply to U.S. products.

Trudeau, who has repeatedly stated he would rather walk away from NAFTA than sign a bad deal, spoke before Lighthizer at an event hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations in NY and took a more cautious tone.

"The fact is, Canada is not making concessions in areas where we think they're essential", he said at the Concordia Summit in NY. "And frankly, we're thinking about just taxing cars coming in from Canada".

"That's the mother lode. That's the big one", Trump explained.

"We're very unhappy with the negotiations and the negotiating style of Canada". "Canada will come along", said Trump who added that if they don't make a deal, the USA will "make a much better deal" by taxing Canadian auto exports to the U.S.

The attack cast further doubt on the future of the three-nation North American Free Trade Agreement, which underpins $1.2tn in annual trade between Canada, Mexico and the United States.

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Freeland was hand-picked by Trudeau to act as the political lead for Canada's negotiating team and is the direct counterpart to Lighthizer.

As reported by Reuters, US officials are complaining that Canada is refusing to make necessary concessions in order to achieve a trilateral pact that will update and replace NAFTA.

"I must be honest with you, we're not getting along with their negotiators. But with Canada it's very tough", he continued. "It's been long and exhausting, but I think we've narrowed the gap".

In June, after the G7 summit, Trudeau told reporters that Canada would retaliate with tariffs of its own following the imposition of US tariffs on steel and aluminum.

Roughly four in five cars assembled in Canada are exported.

It was those attempted discussions that Trump was referring when he said he refused to meet Trudeau, the official said, rather than a request for a formal bilateral sit-down meeting, which the Canadians said they did not make. Canadian leaders have objected to Trump's decision to impose tariffs on Canadian steel, citing national security. Tariffs are paid by importers of products, not foreign countries, and USA business executives have said they will probably be forced to pass these costs on to consumers.

"Canada wants some assurances going forward that the president will not continue to use this, after we sign an agreement, to harass our industries simply because he's mad at our prime minister", the president of the Canadian Labour Congress told BNN Bloomberg television Thursday.

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