President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he would be open to doing a bilateral trade deal with Canada but not Mexico if talks between the three countries over the North American Free Trade Agreement fall apart.
Asked by a reporter if he could envision maintaining free trade with Canada if NAFTA talks sour with Mexico, Trump said: "Oh sure, absolutely".
Freeland, who says Canada buys more from the United States than China, Britain and Japan combined, told CTV television on Sunday that Trudeau's message to Trump at their White House meeting would be "We are your biggest client".
He said the 23-year-old accord is facing an "existential threat" because of the Trump administration's hard-line stance.
Trump was speaking in the Oval Office beside Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is trying to convince the US president of NAFTA's merits as a new round of renegotiations began on Wednesday near Washington. Canadians and Americans know that we are all better off when we work together to grow the middle class and create prosperity on both sides of the border.
Trudeau added that Canada was "very much aware of and very braced for" Trump's unpredictability, but his government would work in a "thoughtful, meaningful way towards getting a good deal". Among them, slashing access to US government procurement bidding, a "sunset" clause that would end NAFTA in five years unless all countries renewed it, and weakening or killing dispute resolution mechanisms.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Thomas Donohue, speaking in Mexico City on Tuesday, pledged to fight "like hell" to defend Nafta if Trump tries to pull out.
"We'll see if we can do the kind of changes that we need", Trump said.
The Telegraph reports that the British government is considering joining the trade bloc with the US, Canada, and Mexico known as NAFTA. U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said on Wednesday he expected an agreement would be reached on that issue. Levy said. "Or are they going to take this as a pretext and say: 'We tried negotiations; they failed". In 1994, Mexico joined NAFTA and has been a full member of the agreement ever since.
However, a study released on Thursday by the Motor Equipment Manufacturers Association, which represents US auto parts makers, showed the higher content requirements would lead to the loss of up to 24,000 U.S.jobs, as some companies would forego NAFTA's tariff-free benefits and ship in more components from other countries. NAFTA requires at least 62 percent of a car's parts to be made in North America before the vehicle can avoid import tariffs and taxes.
"These will be met with widespread opposition from Canada and Mexico".
Canada and Mexico want their companies to be able to bid on more US federal and state government contracts, but this is at odds with Trump's "Buy American" agenda. Mexico strongly opposes such a move, which would damage its own auto industry.
The talks are planned to end on October 16.
The fourth round of talks will extend to October 17.
The top USA business group pledged to fight to preserve the pact, a congressional committee said it was committed to successful talks, and Mexico signaled it can live without the accord.