WASHINGTON — The Trump administration appears virtually certain to miss its weekend deadline for reaching agreement with Canada on a new North American trade deal, according to U.S. officials and people close to the talks.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer said Tuesday that negotiators are “running out of time” to include Canada in the trade deal with Mexico, finalized last month.

The administration wants to notify Congress of its plans for a new North American accord by Sunday to meet a timetable permitting the current Mexican president, Enrique Peña Nieto, to sign it on his final day in office on Nov. 30.

Disputes remain over Canada’s dairy management program, a dispute resolution process and the fate of U.S. tariffs on metal imports from Canada.

If the gaps cannot be bridged in the next few days, the administration will request congressional approval of a deal with Mexico only, Lighthizer said in New York at the Concordia summit, an annual policy conference.

At a separate event in New York, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau showed no interest in accepting the U.S.-Mexico terms as written.


“There’s a possibility there to build on what they agreed, but we know that Canada’s interests are what we have to stand up for and we will,” Trudeau told the Council on Foreign Relations. “My focus on this throughout has been simply not escalating. Not opining. Not weighing in. My job is very simple. It’s to defend Canada’s interests, stand up for Canadians.”

The chief U.S. trade negotiator was scheduled to meet with Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland on the sidelines of the annual United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York. But there is little chance of a last-minute deal, according to a senior administration official, who asked for anonymity.

President Trump has long been a vocal critic of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, blaming it for the loss of millions of American manufacturing jobs and the closure of thousands of factories.

Negotiations aimed at a new agreement have been underway for 13 months, but Canada and the U.S. remain at loggerheads. The administration is likely to face stiff opposition from key lawmakers and the business community to the idea of proceeding with a new trade deal without Canada, which ranks behind only China as a U.S. trading partner.

More than $582 billion in goods crossed the northern U.S. border last year.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: