Adviser says U.S. close to Mexico-only NAFTA deal,
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[September 22, 2018]
By Susan Heavey
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States is
getting "very, very close" to having to move forward on its trade deal
with Mexico without Canada, White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett
said on Friday.
There is just over a week to go before a U.S.-imposed Oct. 1 deadline to
publish the text of a deal to update the North American Free Trade
Agreement, and the United States and Canada have still not agreed on
terms, Hassett told Fox News Channel.
"We're still talking to Canada, and we're getting very, very close to
the deadline where we're going to have to move ahead with Mexico all by
themselves," said Hassett, who chairs the White House Council of
Washington reached a bilateral trade deal with Mexico in late August and
is threatening to exclude Canada if need be.
Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland left Washington on Thursday
after two days of inconclusive talks with U.S. Trade Representative
Asked for a reaction to Hassett's comments, a Freeland spokesman pointed
to her repeated comments that Canada "will not be driven by a deadline
but by reaching a good deal".
Investor concerns over the future of the 1994 pact, which underscores
$1.2 trillion in annual trade, have regularly hurt stock markets in all
three countries, whose economies are highly integrated.
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Flags of the U.S., Canada and Mexico fly next to each other in
Detroit, Michigan, U.S. August 29, 2018. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook/File
A senior White House official on Friday said he hoped Canada would agree to join
the U.S.-Mexico trade deal by the end of the month, adding he thought U.S.
lawmakers would support a bilateral deal with Mexico if that did not happen.
But Canada says it does not believe U.S. President Trump has the power to
unilaterally turn NAFTA into a two-nation agreement. U.S. business groups and
some senior Democrats say NAFTA must be preserved as a trilateral grouping.
Access to Canada's dairy market, trade dispute settlement panels and U.S.
demands for the ability to impose auto tariffs on its northern neighbor remain
sticking points. [nL2N1W61OY]
"I'm a little surprised that the Canadians haven't signed up yet," Hassett said.
"I worry that politics in Canada is trumping common sense because there's a very
good deal that was designed by Mexico and the U.S. to appeal to Canada. And
they're not signing up and it's got everybody over here a little bit puzzled."
Freeland and Lighthizer are due in New York next week for the United Nations
General Assembly, but it was unclear if they would meet.
(Additional reporting by David Lawder in Washington and David Ljunggren in
Ottawa, writing by David Lawder; editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Bernadette Baum and
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