Canada, U.S. making 'lots of progress' as NAFTA talks near deadline

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The president told reporters that he had rejected a request from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to meet while the two leaders with attending the United Nations General Assembly in NY and he threatened to slap tariffs on USA automobile imports from Canada.

"Canadians have told us they want us to negotiate a good deal for Canada, and that's precisely what we've been doing since the beginning", he said.

They haven't said why, but it's likely to let Freeland focus on efforts to get Canada into a trilateral NAFTA deal with the US and Mexico, which sources say have intensified this week in the face of Monday's congressional deadline.

"We won't sign a bad deal for Canadians".

After three-way talks stalled this summer, the USA and Mexico last month announced they had reached a separate deal.

A Canadian government source told AFP that Canada's top negotiator, Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, 'is in constant communication with the Americans, both formally and informally'.

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Trudeau's office didn't respond to requests Wednesday and Thursday about whether the prime minister sought sideline discussions with the president.

Would it be limits to US takeover of Canadian companies? "We're very unhappy with the negotiations and the negotiating style of Canada".

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer - Freeland's counterpart at the talks - on Tuesday had complained Canada was not making enough concessions and said time was running out. "At the end of the day, US negotiators are agreeing, but it still has to be the president that signs off, and who knows where he is on things".

Trump says he will pursue a trade deal with or without Canada, and has repeatedly threatened to impose punitive tariffs on Canadian automobiles if a trilateral deal can't be reached.

But that same evening, Canada's ambassador to the US, David MacNaughton, told a Toronto audience that the chance of reaching a deal on Sunday was "50/50".

Earlier Sunday, one of Trump's senior trade advisers, Peter Navarro, told Fox News that Canada's positions on dairy sector regulations and on worldwide dispute resolution remained among "several sticking points", but suggested that disagreements over digital intellectual property and certain pharmaceutical protections had been largely resolved.

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They expressed little optimism that a deal with Canada could be reached quickly, noting disagreements over dairy and dispute settlement provisions.

Asked about the challenge that autos tariffs would pose, Trudeau said Canada would need to feel confident "about the path forward as we move forward - if we do - on a NAFTA 2.0".

"It's a challenging task to figure that out and they're spending a lot of time on that right now", said the third Canadian source.

Trump also floated slapping auto tariffs on Canada, which could sow disarray in supply chains, take the wind out of the sails of a resurgent Canadian economy and rattle investors already unnerved by an escalating U.S.

He reiterated his insistence that Mexico prefers to keep NAFTA a three-country deal.

"I'm hopeful Canada stays at the table - there's strong support for three countries seamlessly working together", Brady said on Friday.

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Mexico agreed to ensure that 75 percent of automotive content will be produced within the trade bloc, up from a current 62.5 percent, to receive duty-free benefits. The U.S. president stayed seated as he extended his hand for a cursory handshake. The USTR's office reached out to automakers over the weekend to seek input about how the cap will work and how the vehicle quota will be apportioned, an auto industry executive briefed on the matter said.

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