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Talks with Canadian officials expected after U.S.-Mexico deal

Canada’s minister of foreign affairs is scheduled to hold talks in Washington in hopes of reaching a trade agreement with the United States, an urgent response after President Donald Trump announced a deal with Mexico on Monday that left out Canada.

The official, Chrystia Freeland, is facing a tight deadline to keep the three nations that formed the North American Free Trade Agreement 24 years ago together in a trade pact. The Trump administration set a Friday deadline for an agreement with Canada.

Trump was quick to proclaim the agreement with Mexico a triumph, pointing to Monday’s surge in the stock market.

“We just signed a trade agreement with Mexico, and it’s a terrific agreement for everybody,” the president declared.

Trump suggested that he might leave Canada out of a new agreement. He said he wanted to call the revamped trade pact “the United States-Mexico Trade Agreement” because, in his view, NAFTA has earned a reputation for being harmful to American workers.

But first, he said, he would give Canada a chance to get back in — “if they’d like to negotiate fairly.” To intensify the pressure on Ottawa to agree to his terms, the president threatened to impose new taxes on Canadian auto imports.

Canada’s NAFTA negotiator, Freeland, cut short a trip to Europe to fly to Washington on Tuesday to try to restart talks.

Critics denounced the prospect of cutting Canada out a North American trade pact, in part because of the risks it could pose for companies involved in international trade. Many manufacturers have built vital supply systems that depend on freely crossing all three NAFTA borders.

Noting the “massive amount of movement of goods between the three countries and the integration of operations,” Jay Timmons, president of that National Association of Manufacturers, said “it is imperative that a trilateral agreement be inked.”

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