Trump says he rejected meeting with Canada's Trudeau

US-Canada deal in doubt; focus shifts to Japan trade talks

U.S. President Donald Trump says he rejected a request for a one-on-one meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to discuss NAFTA this week because Canada's tariffs are too high and the country's negotiators have refused to budge. That's the mother lode.

"That's the motherload, that's the big one", Trump told reporters. The White House wanted Trudeau to agree to changes to NAFTA by this weekend, but talks stalled several days ago over a number of issues. "And frankly we're thinking about just taxing cars coming in from Canada", he said.

It's unclear exactly which representative Trump was referring to.

Trump quashed any hopes of that in his press conference Wednesday and it appears Canada is unlikely to join the new trade accord between the US and Mexico by the American-imposed October 1 deadline.

Trump made the announcement after meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in NY on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly. Lighthizer's office was not immediately available for comment. Supporters of Mexico's incoming government, which takes office December 1, are not especially fond of NAFTA, which is why both countries want the deal done before then.

MacNaughton made the comments in response to a question about whether Canada might simply call Trump's bluff and make a take-it-or-leave-it offer, daring Trump to carry out his tariff threat. "There are very large issues", Lighthizer said at the Concordia policy summit in NY.

Liam Swiss, a development expert at Memorial University in St. John's, N.L., said Trudeau's remarks are aimed at his base in an attempt to brand his "Canada is Back" message. My job is very simple.

"It's a means to ensure that Canadian voices are part of the highest level discussions in advancing democracy, and defending the rule of law, and in defending human rights".

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"If we push it beyond that date, then we have a new negotiation with Lopez Obrador and we don't know where that would go at all", Lighthizer said. He also urged Congress not to "interfere" with negotiations "or I will simply terminate NAFTA entirely & we will be far better off". Markets are nervous about the impact on a deal that underpins $1.2 trillion in annual trade.

Trump is threatening to impose tariffs on Canadian autos.

The trade talks have been deadlocked over issues such as Canada's high dairy tariffs and USA efforts to shield drug companies from generic competition.

Any final deal on NAFTA will include language around gender and indigenous rights, as initially sought by Canada, he said.

He then sarcastically characterized the Canadian position on dairy supply management as, "We don't have a barrier - but it's 300 per cent".

But Trump didn't seem phased by this. "We will continue to negotiate with a view to getting a deal that is in Canada's national interest", he said. "We are going to tax the cars that come in". "I refuse to use it". Trump spoke to both for longer than he did Trudeau.

"They (the United States and Mexico) made certain agreements", he said.

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