Published:  12:19 AM, 13 September 2018

US-Canada trade deal 'eminently possible

US-Canada trade deal 'eminently possible Canada's Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland is calling for close cooperation with the US. -AFP

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland announced a breakthrough Tuesday in tense talks with the United States on a revamped continental trade pact, saying a new deal was now "eminently possible."

US President Donald Trump also said earlier that the talks, which both countries ramped up in recent weeks, were coming along well. After a year of effort, Washington and Mexico City announced an agreement in late August and Trump's administration has informed Congress it plans to sign a new treaty by November 30, including Canada if possible.

"Achieving that deal is going to require good will, good faith and flexibility on both sides, and we think that's eminently possible," Freeland said after the latest set of bilateral meetings in Washington with her American counterpart, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. "It is very important to inform" Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in person about the latest developments, she added.

US President Donald Trump also said the talks, which both countries intensified in recent weeks, were coming along well. After a year of effort, Washington and Mexico City announced an agreement in late August and Trump's administration has informed Congress it plans to sign a new treaty by November 30, including Canada if possible. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau warned, however, that potential US auto tariffs could be "devastating" for industry in both countries.

Trump has raised pressure on Ottawa, threatening to impose duties on Canadian auto imports, which Trudeau said would be "devastating" for the Canadian auto sector. "But it would also be devastating to the American auto industry. It would cause a massive disruption and I think lots of layoffs in the United States," Trudeau said on Canadian radio.

"I think it's something that we obviously have to be aware the president is contemplating."In reaching a new NAFTA, Canada is protecting its interests but also "looking to be flexible because it's time to update this deal after 25 years," he said. At the White House, Trump told reporters Canada wanted a deal "very much" and that talks were "coming along well."

"We have all been dealing in good faith," he said. Freeland returned to Washington on Tuesday to continue meeting with her US counterpart. She pointed to the 17th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks as a reminder of the need for close cooperation between Ottawa and Washington.

"I think that remembering today, and what happened today, maybe that helps us all to put into perspective the negotiations that we're having," Freeland told reporters, noting the "importance and significance" of US-Canadian ties.

-AFP, Washington

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