Canada postpones United Nations address to focus on NAFTA

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Sources say Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and her team of negotiators are engaged in an intensive, late-stage effort to get Canada back into a trilateral trade deal with the United States and Mexico before Monday's American-imposed deadline.

Sources familiar with the talks say Freeland took part in a lengthy conference call Friday night with negotiators and their USA counterparts in Washington, who have been taking part in intensive talks all week.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer - Freeland's counterpart at the talks - on Tuesday had complained Canada was not making enough concessions and said time was running out.

"We're focused on the substance, not the timetable".

A Trump administration official and congressional aides said the U.S. -Mexico text was due for release on Friday, but a USTR spokesman declined to comment on timing.

But they caution the window is closing and Canada's time may be running out.

The White House wants his side to sign the new Nafta negotiated with Mexico prior to the taking of office of Mr. Lopez Obrador, the beginning of December. But at the end of the day, this president is not going to take a deal that's not good for this country.

There's renewed urgency to nail down a new North American Free Trade Agreement that could be published Sunday, so it can be signed by Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto before he leaves office.

Separately, a well-placed Canadian source said there were no immediate plans for any more talks with the United States.

A separate report from the Globe & Mail says Canada was prepared to make significant concessions on dairy in order to preserve the Chapter 19 dispute resolution mechanism and to get a guarantee not to impose tariffs. We're going to tax the cars that come in.

"Hopefully Canada can be included already in the text".

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Sources say Mexico is fine with the Trudeau government waiting past Monday's Quebec election because it understands any concession it might be willing to make on allowing greater USA access to dairy would be a political bombshell in the final days of the provincial campaign.

Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray in recent days has raced the clock to bridge the gaps between the US and Canadian sides, the official said. -Mexican deal or Washington and Ottawa could reach their own bilateral arrangement, according to trade experts.

Trump is under increasing pressure from U.S. business groups and some members of the U.S. Congress, who say excluding Canada from NAFTA would play havoc with the three member nations' increasingly integrated economies.

"They are closer now than they've ever been".

Meredith Lilly, an global trade expert at Carleton University in Ottawa, said there's virtually nothing in the text that will take Canadian negotiators by surprise.

President Donald Trump said on September 26 that he refused a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau while at the United Nations amid the trade impasse, and threatened auto tariffs, calling them the "mother lode".

"It's a deflection from a number of different problems", she said.

A NAFTA deal had looked unlikely on Wednesday when, after a month of slow-moving discussions, Trump indicated he was fed up with Trudeau, who has insisted he will not sign a bad deal.

The Mexico-U.S. agreement is expected to include new terms on auto manufacturing and imports, among other issues.

The Trudeau government has branded the tariffs illegal and insulting given the close security relationship between Canada and the US, including their shared membership in Norad, which defends North American airspace. Canada's duty free is now $20.

"That's going to make it very hard to sell a deal at home".

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