Talks with Canadian officials expected after US-Mexico deal


WASHINGTON (AP) — Canada's minister of foreign affairs is scheduled to hold talks in Washington today in hopes of reaching a trade agreement with the United States, an urgent response after President Donald Trump announced a deal with Mexico on Monday that left out Canada.

The official, Chrystia Freeland, is facing a tight deadline to keep the three nations that formed the North American Free Trade Agreement 24 years ago together in a trade pact. The deal unveiled Monday by Trump – whose administration set a Friday deadline – raised several key questions:

Can Canada, the United States' second-largest trading partner, be coaxed or coerced into a new pact?

If not, is it even legal – or politically feasible – for Trump to reach a replacement trade deal with Mexico alone?

And will the changes being negotiated to the 24-year-old NAFTA threaten the operations of American and foreign companies that have built sophisticated supply chains that span the three countries?

"There are still a lot of questions left to be answered," said Peter MacKay, a former Canadian minister of justice, defense and foreign affairs who is now a partner at the law firm Baker McKenzie.

Trump was quick to proclaim the agreement a triumph, pointing to Monday's surge in the stock market, which was fueled in part by the apparent breakthrough with Mexico.

"We just signed a trade agreement with Mexico, and it's a terrific agreement for everybody," the president declared. "It's an agreement that a lot of people said couldn't be done."

Trump suggested that he might leave Canada out of a new agreement. He said he wanted to call the revamped trade pact "the United States-Mexico Trade Agreement" because, in his view, NAFTA has earned a reputation for being harmful to American workers.

But first, he said, he would give Canada a chance to get back in – "if they'd like to negotiate fairly." To intensify the pressure on Ottawa to agree to his terms, the president threatened to impose new taxes on Canadian auto imports.

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