Trump suggests Canada has been sidelined from latest NAFTA negotiations

Trump suggests Canada has been sidelined from latest NAFTA negotiations

Canadian officials have insisted they’re unfazed by being left out of the discussions

U.S. President Donald Trump is suggesting Canada has deliberately been left on NAFTA’s sidelines as one-on-one talks heat up between Washington and Mexico.

For four straight weeks, U.S. trade czar Robert Lighthizer and Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo have held bilateral negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement, while Canada has been absent from the bargaining table.

RELATED: U.S. President Trump threatens auto tariffs against Canada if trade talks fail

Canadian officials have insisted they’re unfazed by being left out of the discussions because it’s allowing the U.S. and Mexico to sort out tough bilateral issues, such as their differences on autos. They’ve stressed that there have been a lot of one-on-one talks during NAFTA’s renegotiation process.

But some observers have refused to buy that argument. They’ve said Ottawa’s partners have frozen it out of the critical NAFTA negotiations as a tactic and have warned that Canada could eventually be forced into accepting a deal reached between the U.S. and Mexico.

Trump appeared to feed that belief during a televised cabinet meeting in Washington on Thursday — on the one-year anniversary of the start of NAFTA’s renegotiation.

“We’re not negotiating with Canada right now,” said Trump, who has frequently complained about Canada’s supply-managed dairy sector.

“Their tariffs are too high, their barriers are too strong, so we’re not even talking to them right now. But we’ll see how that works out. It will only work out to our favour.”

During the cabinet meeting, Lighthizer told the room he’s hoping for a NAFTA breakthrough with Mexico in the coming days.

“I’m hopeful with Mexico and then I hope once we get one with Mexico that Canada will come along,” Lighthizer said.

The U.S. and Mexican governments have both expressed optimism the entire NAFTA renegotiation could be concluded before the end of the month.

But Trump insisted Thursday that he’s in “no rush” to make a deal.

RELATED: Trudeau says he can’t imagine Trump damaging U.S. by imposing auto tariffs

“If you don’t have a breakthrough, as you call it, don’t do the deal because it’s a lousy situation for the United States,” he told Lighthizer.

“We have much better alternatives than that, you understand? So, if you can’t make the right deal, don’t make it.”

Trump added that NAFTA has “been a disaster for our country.”

Asked about Trump’s remarks Thursday, a spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said Ottawa’s officials remain in touch with their American and Mexican partners.

“Minister Freeland, Ambassador (David) MacNaughton and the Canadian negotiating team are in regular contact with their counterparts and we look forward to continuing these important discussions in the coming weeks,” Adam Austen wrote in an email.

“Our focus remains defending Canadian interests as we work towards a modernized, updated NAFTA agreement.”

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Anyone with information is asked to call Nanaimo RCMP at 250-754-2345 or contact Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-222-8477 or submitting a tip online at www.nanaimocrimestoppers.com.
21-year-old motorbike rider dies after crash with ATV on back road in Nanaimo

Incident happened Sunday afternoon near Boomerang Lake

News Bulletin file photo
LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Bike lanes inexpensive compared with roads

It is a myth that car drivers are subsidizing cyclists or pedestrians, says letter writer

March 8 is International Women’s Day. (Stock photo)
Editorial: International Women’s Day can inspire us to recommit to equality

Let’s call out sexism, amplify feminism and keep working toward equality

Police in Nanaimo are turning to the public for help identifying two men suspected of a break-and-enter attempt at a Nicol Street apartment building. (Photo submitted)
Nanaimo RCMP looking for two men suspected of a break-and-enter attempt

Security camera snapped images in Nicol Street apartment building parking lot

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools. (News Bulletin file photo)
COVID-19 case reported at Nanaimo’s Mountain View school

School district advises of March 2-3 exposure dates

An Island Health nurse prepares a dose of COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo courtesy Island Health)
Island Health opening 19 clinics to immunize Vancouver Island residents

Health authority anticipates more than 40,000 people will be immunized over the next month

A sports car crashed into a lamp standard and rolled down the hill behind Country Club Centre mall on Sunday night. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Sports car crashes into lamp post, rolls down hill behind Nanaimo mall

Driver uninjured in incident Sunday night on Norwell Drive

Cottonwoods Care Home in Kelowna. (Google Maps)
New COVID-19 outbreak at Kelowna care home includes fully vaccinated seniors: Henry

Two staff and 10 residents tested positive at Cottonwoods Care Centre

Excerpts from a conversation between Bria Fisher and the fake truLOCAL job. Fisher had signed a job agreement and was prepared to start work for what she thought was truLOCAL before she learned it was a scam. (Contributed)
B.C. woman warning others after losing $3,000 in job scam

Bria Fisher was hired by what she thought was a Canadian company, only to be out thousands

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix provide a regular update on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, March 2, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 cases: 545 Saturday, 532 Sunday, 385 Monday

Focus on Prince Rupert, Lower Mainland large workplaces

Rising accident rates and payout costs have contributed to billion-dollar deficits at ICBC. (Comox Valley Record)
B.C. appealing decision keeping ICBC injury cases in court

David Eby vows to ‘clip wings’ of personal injury lawyers

Hannah Ankenmann, who works with k’awat’si Economic Development Corporation, winces as she received her first shot of the Pfizer vaccine administered by a Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw Family Health nurse. (Zoe Ducklow photo)
Vancouver Island’s small remote towns to get community-wide vaccine clinics

Island Health to take a wholesale approach to immunization, rather than age-based appointments

(Black Press Media files)
Hosts charged, attendees facing COVID fines after Vancouver police bust party at condo

Police had previously received 10 complaints about that condo

Most Read