U.S., Mexico to release text of trade deal without Canada

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As he held a news conference at the UN U.S. President Donald Trump claimed he denied Trudeau a one-on-one meeting because of our tariffs.

On Wednesday, Trump told reporters he rejected a request for a meeting with Trudeau to discuss negotiations to update the North America Free Trade Agreement because he was unhappy with Canada's approach to the ongoing trade talks. Trudeau said "a good, fair deal is still very possible".

Trump, who wants major changes to the 1994 treaty, has struck an agreement with Mexico and is threatening to leave out Canada unless it signs up by this Sunday. "That's the mother lode, that's the big one".

Some U.S. Democratic lawmakers said they could not support a NAFTA deal without Canada. "If the government listened to everything the Trump team said about the negotiations we'd never get anything done", said one source with direct knowledge of Ottawa's stance.

But insiders - who requested anonymity given the sensitivity of the situation - say there is no alternative for Canada but to keep trying to settle the differences between the two nations and ignore mounting pressure from the USA administration.

Relations between the Canadian and US leaders have been chilly since June, when Trump left a Group of Seven summit in Canada and then accused Trudeau of being dishonest and weak.

It's also not certain whether Trump's bilateral deal with Mexico will be approved, given Congress had authorized fast-tracked negotiations for a trilateral - not bilateral - trade deal. He has repeatedly said he is ready to walk away from the talks rather than sign a document he thinks is bad.

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Trump also said he gave Trudeau the cold shoulder "because his tariffs are too high and he doesn't seem to want to move - and I told him, 'Forget about it'".

The three nations' auto industries are highly integrated, and tariffs on Canadian-built cars would be hugely disruptive.

Washington has already wrapped up a deal with Mexico, the third NAFTA member, and is due to publish the text on Friday.

The U.S. has suggested it will forge a new NAFTA deal with just Mexico if it fails to reach an accord with its northern neighbor.

"(Lighthizer) indicated there was no deal with Canada, but the hope is that Canada will come in later on, which I think is totally unacceptable. Administration officials are hopeful that Canada will be more willing to make concessions after provincial elections take place in October. A spokesman for the U.S. Trade Representative's Office declined to comment.

Canada's Liberal government says it does not feel bound by the latest NAFTA deadline, and it repeated on Friday that it would not bow to US pressure to sign a quick deal. His administration is racing to get approval for the agreement with Mexico by November 30, when Mexico's current President Enrique Peña Nieto and his administration leave office.