Trudeau says NAFTA deal 'still very possible' despite Trump comments
President Donald Trump said he rejected a one-on-one meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the United Nations General Assembly because he’s dissatisfied with trade negotiations with Ottawa.
“We’re very unhappy with the negotiations and the negotiating style of Canada,” Trump said in a news conference on Wednesday. “Canada has treated us very badly. Canada has a long way to go.”
Trudeau’s office did not request a meeting with Trump, said Chantal Gagnon, a spokeswoman for the prime minister. She offered no further comment on Trump’s remarks.
Officials were "grinding their teeth" at the Canadian embassy in Washington during Trump's press conference, a source told BNN Bloomberg.
Trump and Trudeau shared an unenthusiastic handshake at a luncheon at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, though Trudeau on Wednesday downplayed the interaction. Trump has complained about Canadian tariffs on U.S. dairy products -- and did so again Wednesday -- and has called on Congress to pass a trade deal his administration negotiated with Mexico to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, with or without Canada’s participation.
“I must be honest with you, we’re not getting along at all with their negotiators,” Trump said. “If we made a deal with Canada -- which, you know, a good chance still, but I’m not making anything near what they want to do.” The deal will “probably or possibly” be a deal with just Mexico, he added.
Trump reiterated his threat to apply auto tariffs to Canadian imports if a deal can’t be reached. “If Canada doesn’t make a deal with us, we’re going to make a much better deal -- we’re going to tax the cars that come in.” He called that the “mother lode.”
The Canadian dollar fell after Trump’s comments, losing two tenths of a cent to $1.3041 per U.S. dollar at 5:54 p.m. in trading.
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It’s unclear whether Trump can persuade Congress to ratify a new trade deal with Mexico that excludes Canada. He’s threatened to withdraw from the existing Nafta deal entirely.
Trudeau reiterated at a separate news conference Wednesday that he won’t sign just any deal. Talks look set to stretch past the next deadline, Sunday, when the U.S. wants to publish text of its deal with Mexico. The U.S. had been pressing to reach a deal that included Canada as well, but talks are expected to continue anyhow.
The two leaders initially had a warm relationship before Trudeau hosted the Group of Seven summit in June. Trudeau’s remarks at his closing news conference, where he called U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs “insulting” and said he would proceed with counter-tariffs, set off Trump and prompted him to revoke his support for that summit’s closing statement.
Discussing Canada, Trump also said the U.S. “doesn’t like their representative very much,” without naming which Canadian official he was referring to. Trump was twice asked if he would pull out of the existing NAFTA deal; he declined to say.
With files from BNN Bloomberg