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Canada  

NAFTA not there yet

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau signalled today that Canada wants more from its negotiating partners before signing on to a revamped North American Free Trade Agreement.

"We've been very clear that we're interested in what could be a good deal for Canada, but we're going to need to see a certain amount of movement in order to get there," Trudeau said in Ottawa.

"And that's certainly what we're hoping to see."

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland is back in Washington — and back in search of a way to bridge the divide that's keeping Canada out of a revised NAFTA deal.

A team of Canadian trade negotiators worked with their American counterparts through the night, Freeland said today as she headed into a meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

"So there is some very intensive work happening."

Freeland returns to the U.S. capital as a prominent congressional ally of President Donald Trump makes it clear that American lawmakers are growing weary of what they see as Canadian intransigence.

House of Representatives majority whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) is warning of "growing frustration" on Capitol Hill with what he calls Canada's "negotiating tactics."

Trade observers say that while many in Congress want Canada to be part of a three-way trade deal, they may not be willing to sacrifice an agreement in principle between Mexico and the U.S. negotiated earlier this year.

That deal is widely seen to require congressional approval before Dec. 1 in order to survive the arrival of an incoming Mexican government whose supporters have mixed feelings about the deal.

Canada, meanwhile, has been pushing back against deadlines declared by the Trump administration — first the end of August, then the end of September.

"While we would all like to see Canada remain part of this three-country coalition, there is not an unlimited amount of time for it to be part of this new agreement," Scalise said in a statement.

Freeland says Canada has been negotiating in good faith throughout the process, which is about to enter its 14th month.

Supply management has been a big issue in the provincial election campaign in Quebec, home to about half of Canada's dairy farms. Quebec Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard has warned there will be "serious political consequences" if there is any further dismantling of the protections for dairy farmers through NAFTA negotiations.



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