Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau believes that a NAFTA deal with the US may be clinched only if it meets the country’s economic interests.
“We recognize that there is a possibility of getting there by Friday, but it is only a possibility, because it will hinge on whether or not there is ultimately a good deal for Canada,” Trudeau told reporters on Wednesday. “No NAFTA deal is better than a bad NAFTA deal.”
He added that the two countries had made progress on the key issue of cars and automotive components to the US – an area that Donald Trump identified as a Canadian pressure point for US negotiators.
Auto exports to the US are worth $56 billion to the Canadian economy, or around 20 percent of the country’s total exports to the United States.
“I think Canada very much wants to make the deal,” Trump said, but added that “it probably won’t be good at all if they don’t.”
Other areas of dispute include Canada’s quota system for dairy products, which the US and other nations have often demanded be opened up to greater competition.
The US and Canadian leaders’ comments came hours after trade officials met in Washington to discuss revisions to a bilateral trade accord dubbed by Trump as “The United States-Mexico Trade Agreement.”
The US Chamber of Commerce earlier warned the Trump administration that Canada remains the United States’ largest export market.
“In order to do no harm to the 14 million US jobs that depend on trade with Canada and Mexico, the agreement must remain trilateral,” the body said on Monday.
On Monday, Trump told reporters that the United States and Mexico had reached a new trade agreement that would replace the current NAFTA pact.
Later in the day, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer expressed hope that Canada would join the new trade agreement between the United States and Mexico.
The United States, Canada and Mexico have been negotiating a revised version of NAFTA, proposed by Donald Trump who made renegotiating NAFTA one of his top campaign pledges and threatened to withdraw if it is not reworked to the advantage of the US.
The NAFTA agreement has been in place since 1994.