Canada agrees to new trilateral trade deal with USA and Mexico

Decision day dawns as intensive NAFTA effort nears U.S.-imposed deadline

Word of an agreement followed an emergency cabinet meeting called by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at 10:00 pm (0200 GMT) - two hours ahead of a Washington-imposed midnight deadline for getting the text of a revised agreement to the United States Congress.

After weeks of hunkering down in Washington, Freeland and David MacNaughton, Canada's ambassador to the US, had spent the day in Ottawa taking part in an aggressive, long-distance, last-minute push to get Canada into the trilateral free trade deal ahead of a key congressional deadline.

President Donald Trump reportedly accepted the new deal while Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held a late-night meeting with his Cabinet in Ottawa.

Negotiators - still apart on matters such as dispute resolution and a USA demand for more access to Canada's dairy markets - are also tackling the matter of American tariffs.

"They used to call it NAFTA", said Trump after a deal had been reached with Mexico.

Amidst a trade war and rising rhetoric from the White House, there have been some doubts about whether Canada would be able to reach an agreement with the USA, adding to earlier threats from President Donald Trump that he would cancel NAFTA if a deal highly favourable to the USA is not be reached.

'Lots of progress, but we're not there yet, ' MacNaughton told reporters.

An agreement on how to treat the auto sector, reached this summer between the United States and Mexico, was central to a revamped NAFTA going ahead. And given there is every indication that we are virtually guaranteed a bad deal, it's time to say no to NAFTA. Vehicles imported to the United States from Mexico contain almost 20 to 30 percent USA content.

Some have characterized the side letter as effectively establishing a quota on the number of autos that can be exported to the US - anathema to the very principles of free trade. "So if you comply with the rules of origin, there's no way you are subject to 232 tariffs", he said.

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It also appears to preserve the key dispute-resolution provisions - Chapter 19 - which allows for independent panels to resolve disputes involving companies and governments, as well as Chapter 20, the government-to-government dispute settlement mechanism.

The president said he had rejected a meeting with Trudeau because of Canada's high tariffs, though Trudeau's office said no meeting had ever been requested.

Initial reports indicate that the revised agreement will allow the United States greater access to Canada's dairy market and addresses Canadian concerns about potential auto tariffs, sources told CNN.

Representatives for the government of Mexican president-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador have called a press conference to discuss details of the trade deal on Monday. The agreement also exempts tariffs on 2.6 million automobiles. "NAFTA 2 will give certainty and stability to Mexican trade with its partners in North America".

Last year, the US goods trade deficits with Mexico and Canada were $71.1 billion and $17.5 billion, respectively.

US dairy farmers are subsidized and create a huge oversupply of milk.

The $1.2tn (£920bn) open-trade zone had been on the verge of collapse after 24 years - with Canada facing the prospect of being left out of a deal between the U.S. and Mexico.

Trump campaigned on a promise to rewrite NAFTA - or get rid of it. Talks on a rewrite began more than a year ago.

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