Freeland to head back to Washington for high-level NAFTA negotiations

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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.

Freeland spent three days in Washington last week and said on Friday as she prepared to leave that she and Lighthizer were making very good progress in some areas, although a deal remained out of reach.

With so much uncertainty, Freeland and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have regularly been dogged by questions about the fate of NAFTA.

Freeland will spend Tuesday in the USA capital before she heads to Saskatoon to attend Liberal caucus meetings that begin later in the day and run through Thursday.

They think Canada will make concessions on the mechanism to reach a trade deal with the USA this month.

The in-person, high-level negotiations got back underway as events marking the 17th anniversary of the 2001 attacks took place around the US, including at the Pentagon with Vice President Mike Pence, not far from where the trade meetings are taking place.

The Canadian trade leaders, who said the discussions were positive, cordial and that there was good faith on both sides of the negotiating table between the long-time trading partners.

Canadian and US officials continue to chip away in pursuit of a new North American Free Trade Agreement deal but without the top players at the table.

"Prime Minister Trudeau is right in that no deal - and waiting for more reason in future - is better than permanently signing onto a feature that guts NAFTA", Holt said.

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The uncertainty over the fate of NAFTA, in light of a tentative U.S. -Mexico trade deal, has not gone away even as trade experts note that members of Congress, concerned about the trade ties between the two countries, may help ensure that a final deal includes Canada.

The two sides have so far been unable to resolve their differences over USA access to the Canadian dairy market, a cultural exemption for Canada and the Chapter 19 dispute resolution mechanism.

"We agreed that it would be useful to continue talking today, so we're back for more negotiations", Freeland told reporters as she entered USTR offices in Washington.

Freeland was set to meet with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthnizer before heading to Saskatchewan for a Liberal Party caucus meeting and could be returning to the U.S. capital later in the week.

"And one of the things that I think we are accomplishing in this agreement is a better deal for Canadian and USA workers in the auto sector".

Trudeau, facing elections in 2019, said on Sunday (June 10) that Canada "will not be pushed around", triggering a fierce attack from Trump and his advisers, on Tuesday (June 12).

"I think it's something that we obviously have to be aware the president is contemplating".

Freeland returned to Washington on Tuesday to continue meeting with her U.S. counterpart. "That's important and that's been a success due to Canada and the United States working together and due to Mexico showing some significant flexibility over the summer", Freeland said.

President Trump has voiced his willingness to create a separate deal than the one made with Mexico.

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