US President Donald Trump claimed on Wednesday that he had rejected a one-on-one meeting with Canadian PM Justin Trudeau during this week's United Nations summit over simmering trade tensions.
When explaining his decision, Donald Trump cited Canada's import tariffs and Trudeau's unwillingness to back down in talks over a renewed NAFTA agreement. "His tariffs are too high, and he doesn't seem to want to move, and I've told him ‘forget about it,' and frankly, we're thinking about just taxing cars coming in from Canada," POTUS told a press conference on the sidelines of the General Assembly.
His claim was later disputed by Trudeau's spokesperson, Chantal Gagnon, who said that "no meeting was requested" when approached for comment.
Donald Trump also voiced his distaste for the ongoing talks with Canada and its trade negotiator. "We're very unhappy with the negotiations and the negotiating style of Canada. We don't like their representative very much," he added, apparently referring to Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland.
Trump had campaigned on a promise that the US would negotiate deals he considered unfair to his country, including NAFTA, a two-decade-old trade pact between the US, Canada, and Mexico. He earlier announced that he had reached an agreement to replace parts of NAFTA with Mexico; the text is due to be released this Friday. It will likely exclude Canada from the trade accord but leave open the possibility for the country to join the agreement later, Bloomberg suggested, citing sources familiar with the situation.
US-Canada relations have been strained ever since Donald Trump's decision to hit his allies, including fellow NAFTA members, with aluminum and steel tariffs, citing national security concerns. Trudeau's government criticized the move and went ahead with $16.6-billion tariffs on American imports. Washington has also repeatedly threatened to hit Canada's auto industry with 25 percent tariffs.