Trade Talks with Canada Stall

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland

President Donald Trump told Congress on Friday that he hopes to sign a new trade agreement with Mexico within the next 90 days. He also hopes to make a new agreement with Canada, but there are more difficult issues to work through on that front.

U.S.-Canada Trade Relations

Negotiators reached a general agreement with Mexico on Monday. Talks with Canada will continue on Wednesday.

Disagreements with Canada focus on the northern country’s dairy market and efforts by the U.S. to keep generic drugs out of the American market.

On Friday, news broke over comments Trump made to Bloomberg News. Off the record, he said that he wasn’t going to give into any of Canada’s demands. He explicitly said that he wanted that stance to remain off the record. Otherwise, he said, “it’s going to be so insulting they’re not going to be able to make a deal.”

Someone leaked his comments to the Toronto Star, which then published what he said.

On Friday, Trump tweeted, “Wow, I made OFF THE RECORD COMMENTS to Bloomberg concerning Canada, and this powerful understanding was BLATANTLY VIOLATED. Oh well, just more dishonest reporting. I am used to it. At least Canada knows where I stand!”

Ongoing Talks?

Canadian officials do seem willing to continue negotiations. Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said, “My negotiating counterparty is Ambassador Lighthizer. He has brought good faith and good will to the table. We know a win-win-win agreement is within reach.”

Jerry Dias, president of the Canadian private-sector union Unifor, said the Toronto Star’s report showed “Trump’s bluster at best, but obviously he is not going to force anyone into a bad deal.” He added, “It is clear the U.S. economy is much bigger than ours, but trying to embarrass the Canadian team, trying to insult Canadians, is not going to get him anywhere.”

Trump’s Agenda

Trump has said that NAFTA is responsible for reducing American production jobs. He vowed to make a more equitable agreement with Mexico and Canada or end NAFTA.

He feels that he achieved his goal with Mexico. According to the new deal, for example, companies need to make 40 percent of a vehicle in a factory that pays workers at least $16 per hour before it qualifies as a duty-free import. That means companies will need to pay Mexican workers more or bring the jobs back to the U.S. where wages are already higher than those of their Mexican counterparts.

Trump tweeted on Saturday, “I love Canada, but they’ve taken advantage of our Country for many years!”