NAFTA negotiations continue with little (public) progress reported

Canada's Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland will again meet with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on the rewrite of the 25-year-old trade deal Freeland's spokesman Adam Austen told AFP

Lighthizer and Canadian counterpart Chrystia Freeland returned to the negotiating table for one day Tuesday before she jetted off to Saskatoon to brief the prime minister at this week's caucus gathering, which wraps up Thursday. "The average part that goes into the Pacifica in final assembly crosses the border six times", Dilkens said.

Welles Orr, who was assistant USA trade representative for congressional affairs in the George H.W. Bush administration, said the prospects appear good for a deal with Canada in coming weeks, although a new NAFTA or its replacement would likely not get through Congress until next year at the soonest.

U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to pull out of NAFTA entirely and the future of the trade agreement is still unclear as negotiations continue in Washington. Under U.S. law, Trump must wait 90 days before signing the pact.

"We are better off having no NAFTA than a bad deal for Canada", Trudeau told reporters on Tuesday, stressing that he would defend the country's dairy industry.

He and other American politicians have long demanded Canada's system of domestic dairy protections either be abolished or heavily modified to give USA exports a bigger share. "We'll see what happens, but in any event, things are working out very well". A study commissioned by the Canadian Embassy says 9 million jobs "spread across every congressional district" are supported by the Canada-U.S. economic partnership.

After Trump's threats, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said a compromise "will hinge on whether there is ultimately a good deal for Canada". The Pacific trade pact provided those countries with access to 3.25 per cent of Canada's market, and expectations are the US won't go any lower.

The dairy system, or supply management as it is known, falls outside of the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta).

Mulroney, the former prime minister widely considered the father of the modern era of North American free trade, held court Tuesday in Ottawa on the fate of the intercontinental trade pact as talks to modernize NAFTA resumed on the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

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"When it comes to Trump tweets there's a discount premium to them", said Carleton University professor and foreign policy expert Fen Hampson, who advises Trudeau to "hunker down, say nothing, not rise to the bait".

After more than a year of negotiations, Canada and the United States are still trying to resolve bilateral differences over NAFTA, an accord that also includes Mexico.

Negotiations have stretched on for 13 months so far and are stalled on a number of issues including dispute resolution, cultural protection, and how much access American farmers should have to the Canadian dairy market.

Canada is the United States' second-largest trading partner, with US$673 billion in total goods and services crossing the border in 2017.

"But it would also be devastating to the American auto industry".

Trudeau meets on Tuesday with the Dairy Farmers of Canada, which suspect he might be ready to sell them out.

"Sure, it's business and it's important, but Gander is the place that - in a snapshot - illustrates the Canada-U.S. relationship".

"At the end of the day, we're neighbors", Freeland said.

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