In a second day of round-the-clock trade negotiations, U.S. and Canada teams grew confident Wednesday that they will strike a deal before President Trump’s end-of-week deadline for Ottawa to join a new NAFTA.
“They want to be a part of the deal. We gave until Friday, and I think we are probably on track. We’ll see what happens,” Mr. Trump told reporters at the White House.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who clashed with Mr. Trump over trade issues in the past, also sounded optimistic.
“We recognize that there is a possibility of getting there by Friday, but it is only a possibility, because it will hinge on whether or not there is ultimately a good deal for Canada,” he said at a news conference in northern Ontario. “No NAFTA deal is better than a bad NAFTA deal.”
He said the U.S. has a “very good relationship” with Canada.
Mr. Trump made it a top priority to replace NAFTA, which he calls “the worst deal ever made.” The negotiations to rewrite it have dragged on for a year.
Still, Canada is under pressure to accept the deal or get left out.
Earlier, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said she was encouraged by progress made in trade talks.
“We are working extremely hard, extremely intensely and we continue to be optimistic about the progress we can make this week,” said Ms. Freeland, who cut a trip to Europe short and jetted off Tuesday to Washington for the trade talks.
“When it comes to specific issues, we have a huge amount of work to do,” she added, declining to identify sticking points for Canada.
The tentative deal sought to end the mass exodus of manufacturing from the U.S., especially with automakers.
It would raise the minimum level of North American components in an automobile to qualify for tariff-free treatment under NAFTA from 62.5 percent to 75 percent.
The agreement also would boost wages for Mexican workers, keep agricultural products tariff free, increase environmental standards in Mexico and overhaul rules for copywriters and trade dispute resolutions.
The agreement would last 16 years, with an opportunity to review it and adjust its terms after six years.
A major sticking point for Canada is that the deal would eliminate the settlement system for anti-dumping disputes, NAFTA’s Chapter 19.
Ottawa signaled that it is ready to sacrifice it’s dairy tariffs in exchange for a dispute-settlement system, The Globe and Mail reported, but the haggling continued.
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