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US and Canada Fail to Reach New NAFTA Deal

Chrystia Freeland told reporters in Washington that Canada will only sign a deal that’s a good deal for Canada.Chrystia Freeland told reporters in Washington that Canada will only sign a deal that’s a good deal for Canada.

The United States and Canada failed to meet a Friday deadline imposed by the Trump administration to overhaul the North American Free Trade Agreement as major differences remain in bilateral talks.

“Our officials are continuing to work toward agreement,” US trade representative Robert Lighthizer said Friday in a statement, adding the USTR team will resume trade talks with its Canadian counterparts next Wednesday, Xinhua reported.

The White House has pressured Canada to accept the preliminary agreement it struck with Mexico on Monday to update the 24-year-old trilateral trade deal. But Canada insisted that it would only sign a new agreement that is good for the country.

“Canada will only sign a deal that’s a good deal for Canada, we are very, very clear about that,” Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters in Washington after wrapping up talks with US officials on Friday.

One of the major sticking points in the talks is Canada’s dairy market, according to media reports. Canada wants to keep its dairy system, known as supply management, while the United States complained that these agricultural policies will limit sales of US dairy products to the Canadian market.

The White House had set Friday as the deadline to complete the NAFTA negotiations because it wanted to notify congress in time for Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto to sign the new deal before his successor takes office on December 1.

The Trump administration must notify congress 90 days before signing a trade agreement, according to US trade laws.

US officials have indicated that they are prepared to go ahead and sign a NAFTA deal only with Mexico if they are unable to reach a deal quickly with Canada. But the US business community and many lawmakers have insisted that the NAFTA deal should remain a trilateral pact.

“Anything other than a trilateral agreement won’t win congressional approval and would lose business support,” president and CEO of the US Chamber of Commerce Thomas Donohue said Friday in a statement.

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