In July, the Trump administration released a list of goals for a new trade deal between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. The U.S. said it wants more exports of its dairy products and a freer trade in telecommunications and online purchases (just to name a few).
On the call, the two leaders discussed building the Mexico-United States relationship, specifically when it comes to NAFTA.
WATCH: How will the U.S. NAFTA wish list impact Canada?
Peña Nieto said he wanted to “continue working towards building the construction of a new framework to continue our trade relationship among the three countries that are part of NAFTA.”
“Well, Canada is no problem – do not worry about Canada, do not even think about them,” Trump said on the call.
“That is a separate thing and they are fine and we have had a very fair relationship with Canada. It has been much more balanced and much more fair. So we do not have to worry about Canada, we do not even think about them.”
Those remarks echo public comments he made a few days later when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited Washington.
Since then, Trump’s rhetoric on Canada has ebbed and flowed, and U.S. negotiators are entering this month’s NAFTA talks with a laundry list of traditional American demands when it comes to Canadian trade.
In the past, he has attacked Canada’s trade with the U.S., specifically with the dairy industry.
The opening round will be held Aug. 16-20 in Washington. Mexico will host the second round a few weeks later, then Canada will host the third. In the initial session, officials will prioritize the easiest issues: settling on a meeting agenda, on the number of negotiating groups, and on how to compile an agreement text.
— With files from the Canadian Press