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Canada's Freeland to hold NAFTA talks in Washington on Tuesday

14 September 2018

The pressure on the Liberals to loosen protections around Canada's dairy sector took new focus on Sunday as the key stumbling block in North American Free Trade Agreement talks came under scrutiny and spin on political talk shows on both sides of the border. "There are nearly two dozen chapters closed" in the NAFTA deal including reducing red tape on cross-border trade, he said on Monday.

Yet, he stressed that "if we sign the deal it'll be. for Canada and Canadians".

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland returned to Washington on Tuesday for talks aimed at rescuing the North American Free Trade Agreement as time was running short before an October 1 deadline.

"Our farmers don't have access to the Canadian markets the way that they have access to us".

"There's an opportunity to update NAFTA and we're happy to do it, but as I've said it has to be the right deal, it has to be a good deal", he said.

Trump has notified Congress he intends to sign the trade deal reached last week with Mexico by the end of November, and officials said the text would be published by around October 1.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during an interview Tuesday with a Winnipeg radio station, CJOB, that there are certain positions Canada has and remain firm on.

"Maybe that helps us all put into perspective the negotiations that we're having - and also put into a little bit of historical perspective the importance and the significance of the relationship between Canada and the United States", Freeland told reporters outside the offices of her counterpart, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

Canada and the United States have been negotiating since August 28 after Washington unveiled a proposed North American free-trade deal with Mexico and pressed Canada to sign on or be left out.

"We're negotiating all this at once".

As the two nations' chief negotiators prepared to resume their talks in Washington Tuesday, dairy producers suggest this deal is a line in the sand for them.

Freeland returned to Washington on Tuesday to continue meeting with her USA counterpart.

Trump almost tore up the NAFTA pact past year after visiting farmers in Wisconsin, a major USA dairy producer that Washington says has been hurt by Canadian protectionism.

The announcement by the US trade representative comes one week earlier than previously indicated. Canadian officials say they are working on the assumption they have until the end of September. However, no specifics on the progress made towards reaching an agreement have been announced.

Speaking to reporters in Ottawa following an event at the Library and Archives, Brian Mulroney said he would be "surprised" if a new NAFTA deal did not see some concessions around supply management.

The hope is for a trilateral agreement in principle that Congress can approve before Mexico's new president takes office on December 1.

Canada's Freeland to hold NAFTA talks in Washington on Tuesday