- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 5, 2018

President Trump said Wednesday that he won’t back down in trade talks with Canada, as the two countries face a new Oct. 1 deadline to salvage a three-way North American Free Trade Agreement.

The talks to remake NAFTA resumed after hitting an impasse last week over Canada’s high dairy tariffs and U.S. moves to eliminate a dispute resolution system known as Chapter 19 that potentially favors Ottawa.

“Look, we have a very strong position and we are the ones people want to come in and take advantage of,” said Mr. Trump. He later adding, “We are straightening out these horrible trade deals.”

At another White House event, Mr. Trump said Canada needs the deal more than the U.S. needs it.

“If it doesn’t work out that is going to be fine for our country. It won’t be fine for Canada,” said Mr. Trump.

The Trump administration is under pressure from Republican lawmakers and business leaders to preserve the more than $1 trillion in annual trade between the three countries under NAFTA.

Canada and the U.S. exchanged more than $670 billion in goods and services in 2017, according to the U.S. Trade Representative’s office.

The grueling talks are aimed at getting Canada to join a tentative U.S.-Mexico agreement to replace the 24-year-old NAFTA.

Mr. Trump repeated his threat to proceed without Canada if they don’t get on board.

“I love Canada. I love the people of Canada. But they and other countries have been taking advantage of the United States for many years and this is a president who has stopped it,” Mr. Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. “The deal is a much more fair deal between the United States and Mexico.”

After four days of intense negotiations last week, the two teams failed to strike a deal before Mr. Trump’s Friday deadline.

Without Canada, the U.S.-Mexico deal faces a steeper climb and big pitfalls in Congress. But Mr. Trump insists he’s ready to jettison Canada, which he accuses of “decades of abuse” on trade.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he wanted a deal that protects his country from Mr. Trump.

“We need to keep the Chapter 19 dispute resolution because that ensures that the rules are actually followed. And we know we have a president who doesn’t always follow the rules as they’re laid out,” Mr. Trudeau told Edmonton radio station 630 CHED.

In Washington, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland stepped out of the high-stakes talks to say that the dialogue inside was “constructive.”

“We continue to work hard,” she said. “The atmosphere continues to be constructive and positive. There is good faith and good will on both sides.”

The negotiating teams face a new deadline in October when the text of the deal must be submitted to Congress.

Mr. Trump notified Congress last week that he was moving ahead with a U.S.-Mexico deal to replace NAFTA, possibly without Canada.

If Canada is out, Mr. Trump said he would hit them with a 25 percent tariff on cars.

In the tense talks, Canada wants a guarantee that Mr. Trump won’t proceed with auto tariffs and relief from recent tariffs the U.S. slapped on steel and aluminum.

The U.S. is pushing for Canada to lower high tariffs on dairy, which can run up to 270 percent, and changes to the dispute resolution mechanism in NAFTA’s Chapter 19.

The U.S.-Mexico deal nixed Chapter 19 and Canada wants it back to challenge U.S. tariffs on lumber, newsprint, steel and aluminum.

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