Economy

Trump claims he rejected Trudeau meeting over Nafta frustrations

Trump claims he rejected Trudeau meeting over Nafta frustrations

Donald Trump has said he turned down a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, putting a damper on high hopes for trade renegotiations.

The U.S. has been holding negotiations with Canada after reaching a trade agreement with Mexico in August.

He took aim at the country's dairy tariffs and reiterated his threat to tax Canada's auto industry. "We don't like their representative very much", Trump said in an apparent reference to Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland, who has been negotiating with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

Congress, wary of upcoming midterms that are widely expected to inject more Democrats into the current power balance on Capitol Hill, is agitating for Canada to join an existing U.S. -Mexico deal before a self-imposed deadline of Sunday.

Talks have become increasingly hostile.

Trudeau spokeswoman Eleanore Catenaro said in response: "No meeting was requested".

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Trudeau also said the tariffs that Trump imposed on Canadian steel and aluminum in late May would have to be scrapped before Canada felt comfortable signing a new NAFTA.

Speaking to reporters at the United Nations General Assembly, President Trump said: "His tariffs are too high, and he doesn't seem to want to move and I've told him forget about it, and frankly, we're thinking about just taxing cars coming in from Canada". At the same time, he said he will not enter a swift deal to the detriment of his country's interest.

While the talks have been "challenging", the ball is on the USA side of the court, MacNaughton said at an event in Toronto hosted by the US website Politico.

Specifically addressing Canada's NAFTA team, Trump said: "We don't like their representative very much".

"We'll see where it goes, but so far it's been tough", he said.

The two sides are still far apart on major issues such as how to settle disputes and US demands for more access to Canada's protected dairy market.

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Observers say the patience of US lawmakers is waning, particularly with a good deal with Mexico on the table. "It's been great for Canada, it's been great for Mexico, very bad for us".

MacNaughton was the first to say publicly that a deal would not be effective without such protection.

Returning to criticizing Canada, he ripped America's neighbor to the north for a long-imposed tariff of almost 300 percent on some dairy products.

The Canadian leader added existing United States tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminium, which were implemented in late May, would have to be scrapped before Canada felt confident in signing a new NAFTA agreement.

"I love Canada, by the way", he said.

The official declined to be named because the matter has not yet been made public.

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Relations between the two neighbours have been strained since Trump assailed Trudeau at the G-7 meeting in June, calling him a "weak" and "dishonest" back-stabber.


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