US and Canadian leaders expressed optimism on Wednesday that the NAFTA negotiations could meet Friday's deadline to reach an agreement, although Canada warned that hard work is still needed on a number of sensitive issues.
Canada rejoined the talks to modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement, which dates back 24 years, after Mexico and the United States announced a bilateral trade agreement on Monday.
"They (Canada) want to be part of the deal, and we gave it until Friday and I think we're probably on the right track, we'll see what happens, but in any case, things are working very well." The president of EE. UU., Donald Trump, told reporters outside the White House.
President Trump sounded optimistic about a trade agreement with Canada
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he thought the Friday deadline could be met
The optimistic tone contrasted with Trump's harsh criticism of Canada in recent weeks, criticizing on Twitter the high rates of dairy products in Canada that he said were "killing our agriculture."
Trudeau said he thought the Friday deadline could be met.
"We recognize that there is the possibility of getting there on Friday, but it is only a possibility, because it will depend on whether there is finally a good agreement for Canada," he told a news conference in northern Ontario on Wednesday. . "No NAFTA agreement is better than a bad NAFTA agreement."
Trump set Friday as the deadline for the three countries to reach an agreement in principle, which would allow Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to sign him before he leaves office in late November. According to the law of the EE. UU., Trump must wait 90 days before signing the pact.
Trump warned that he could try to reach an agreement with Mexico alone and charge tariffs to Canada if he does not join, although US lawmakers have said ratifying a bilateral agreement would not be easy.
Canadian Chancellor and chief negotiator, Chrystia Freeland, said she was encouraged by the talks and progress so far, but added: "When it comes to specific issues, we have a lot of work to do."
She declined to mention the specific problems, but said on Tuesday that Mexico's concessions on the rules of origin and labor rights of automobiles were a breakthrough.
Ottawa is also ready to make concessions in Canada's protected dairy market in an attempt to save a dispute settlement system, The Globe and Mail reported late Tuesday.
After being removed from the talks for more than two months, Freeland will be under pressure to accept the terms that the United States and Mexico resolved.
One of the problems for Canada in the revised agreement is the United States' effort to get rid of the Chapter 19 dispute resolution mechanism that prevents the United States from pursuing anti-dumping and anti-subsidy cases. The US trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, said Monday that Mexico had agreed to eliminate the mechanism.
To save that mechanism, Ottawa plans to change a rule that effectively prevented US farmers from exporting ultrafiltered milk, an ingredient in cheese making, to Canada, sources with The Globe and Mail reported.
Trudeau repeated on Wednesday that he will defend Canada's dairy industry.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Trump administration's anti-dumping duties on Canadian paper, used in books and newspaper, were ruled out by the United States International Trade Commission.
Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland speaks to the media during a break from business talks in the Office of the United States Trade Representative
President Donald Trump welcomed Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to the White House last year
The independent panel ruled that about $ 1.21 billion in such paper imports from Canada were not harming US producers. UU
Other obstacles to a NAFTA agreement include intellectual property rights and extensions of copyright protections to 75 years from 50, a higher threshold than Canada has previously supported.
Some see the tight time frame as a challenge.
"There is nothing here that is not feasible for Canada," said Brian Kingston, vice president of international affairs at the Business Council of Canada.
"We have the best negotiators in the world, but they can only stay awake for so many hours a day."