Canada and the United States will make a final push to iron out differences on a pact to modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) by a Friday deadline set by President Donald Trump, but the atmosphere soured late on Thursday according to a media report.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland were unable to clinch a deal despite meeting late into the evening on Thursday. They will reconvene on Friday morning, with Mexico on standby to return to talks aimed at ending a year of hard-fought three-way negotiations.
|U.S., Canada slug it out as deadline looms to clinch NAFTA
But Canadian officials are now expressing concern that a final NAFTA deal will not be concluded on Friday, the Globe and Mail reported, citing a source familiar with situation.
The report said Lighthizer refused to budge despite repeated efforts by Freeland to offer concessions to maintain an independent trade dispute mechanism in a revamped trade deal, which has been the biggest sticking points for Canadians.
A bilateral deal announced by the United States and Mexico on Monday was a breakthrough that fueled hopes for a new NAFTA.
Trump hinted at flexibility over his Friday deadline in an interview with Bloomberg on Friday. “Canada’s going to make a deal at some point. It may be by Friday or it may be within a period of time,” he said.
After several days of rallying on the apparent progress in the NAFTA talks, global stocks were weaker for a second day on Friday following Trump’s hawkish comments on trade with China and his threat in the Bloomberg interview to withdraw from the World Trade Organization.