August 29, 2018 1:23 pm
Updated: August 29, 2018 9:36 pm

Chrystia Freeland optimistic about ‘intense’ NAFTA talks

WATCH: Canadian Foreign Minister Chyrstia Freeland says they're entering a very intense period of NAFTA negotiations with the U.S. and both sides have decided to not negotiate in public.


Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says she’s optimistic about the “intense” talks now under way in the accelerated search for a compromise on NAFTA while Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says it’s possible to reach a deal ahead of U.S. President Donald Trump‘s Friday deadline.

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During a break in the high-stakes meeting with her U.S. counterpart in Washington, Freeland emphasized the “compromises” by Mexico in the bilateral trade deal with the U.S. to increase the wages of its auto workers.

READ MORE: Donald Trump’s take-it-or-leave-it NAFTA threat against Canada has experts questioning legality

She’s suggesting that bodes well for progress but she cautions much more work needs to be done.

Freeland has credited the Mexicans for their difficult decision to compromise on labour and wages as part of its auto rules of origin talks with the U-S, saying that has cleared the way for more substantive talks between Washington and Ottawa.

Freeland says the higher Mexican wages will result in “better conditions for working people in Canada and also in the United States in high wage countries.”

WATCH: Freeland says conversations with Mexico on trade positive despite surprise of US deal

Trump announced the deal with Mexico on Monday and has pressured Ottawa to join the new agreement by Friday – otherwise he says he will impose devastating tariffs on Canada’s auto sector.

READ MORE: U.S.-Mexico trade deal may allow Trump to put tariffs of up to 25% on Mexican auto imports

Speaking in northern Ontario, Trudeau said there’s a chance a deal could be reached by Friday.

“We recognize that there is a possibility of getting there by Friday, but it is only a possibility, because it will hinge on whether or not there is ultimately a good deal for Canada,” he said at a press conference. “No NAFTA deal is better than a bad NAFTA deal.”

There are now big questions about whether Canada is willing to open up access to its controversial supply-managed dairy market or if it will back away from its hard line to preserve NAFTA’s dispute settlement system.

The U.S. has demanded that Canada move off its line on both issues as well as others.

READ MORE: New NAFTA could include tough intellectual property laws that Canada fought against in TPP

When pressed by reporters, Freeland would not provide details of what Canada might be putting on the table, saying she and Lighthizer have agreed not to negotiate in public.

© 2018 The Canadian Press

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