Canada NAFTA fight looks set to run past this week’s deadline

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The U.S. has said it will sign a deal with Mexico by the end of November, with or without Canada.

"We know that Canada's interests are what we have to stand up for and we will", Trudeau said, speaking at the Council of Foreign Relations in NY.

Trudeau was asked about US trade ambassador Robert Lighthizer's recent glum assessment of the talks, which remain deadlocked over issues like dispute resolution, access to Canada's dairy market and the so-called Section 232 tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum.

USA and Canadian negotiators have spent more than a month trying to resolve remaining differences after Washington sealed a tentative deal with Mexico City which they intend to sign by December 1, when a new government takes office. The prime minister said it was a quick and cordial encounter and that people shouldn't read too much into it.

The two sides are still far apart on major issues such as how to settle disputes and US demands for more access to Canada's protected dairy market.

The US and Canada are basically out of time to iron out their differences in a trade agreement before the Sept 30 deadline to have a completed full text.

"We're very unhappy with the negotiations and the negotiating style of Canada".

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U.S. President Donald Trump sits behind his desk as he announces a bilateral trade agreement with Mexico to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) at the White House in Washington, U.S., August 27, 2018.

"On steel and aluminum on this point, we started off trying to have some kind of overall agreement that would accomplish that".

And he warned the United States would soon go after Canadian auto imports.

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. The decision will fall to congressional leaders, who are generally supportive of free trade and keeping Canada in the pact.

But he said: "I believe this US-China discussion will go on for a while".

On dispute resolution, the Trudeau government wants to keep some form of NAFTA's Chapter 19 panels and the US wants to eliminate them. "I think it's important to keep North America together, even if it takes more time" he said. "It was an interaction like so many are in the United Nations - quick but cordial". However, if anything that might add more pressure on the United States, which has squeezed a good deal out of Mexico.

"I'm anxious a little bit that time will catch up with us", he said, noting that he had spent more time in Washington working on trade issues than ever before.

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