Trade tensions increase as US-Canada talks miss deadline
1 September 2018
Talks between US and Canadian representatives on a revamped North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) broke up yesterday without an agreement, missing the deadline for a deal set by the Trump administration.
President Trump has now officially informed Congress of “intent to sign a trade agreement with Mexico, and Canada if it is willing, 90 days from now.” US trade representative Robert Lighthizer said the talks had been “constructive” and progress had been made. The Canadian side said only that discussions would resume next week.
Tensions rose in the meeting following the publication in the Toronto Star of off-the-record comments made by Trump during an interview with Bloomberg in the Oval Office on Thursday. He said any possible agreement with Canada would be “totally on our terms” but he could not say this publicly because “it’s going to be so insulting they’re not going to be able to make a deal.” During the interview, Trump indicated that the main threat against Canada is the imposition of a 25 percent tariff on auto imports if a NAFTA deal is not reached.
One of the main points of difference between the two sides is the US demand that Canada abolish, or at least significantly change, its agricultural supply management system which limits the imports of US dairy products and poultry.
Following the signing of a new NAFTA deal with Mexico on Monday, Trump warned that if Canada did not agree to US terms “the easiest thing we can do is tariff their cars coming in,” a threat he repeated in remarks yesterday. Other points of difference are over whether there should be a dispute resolution system in which member countries can challenge any tariffs imposed by one…