NAFTA deadline not firm as Mexico pushes United States for Canadian inclusion

U.S. President Donald Trump sits behind his desk as he announces a bilateral trade agreement with Mexico to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement at the White House in Washington U.S

Meanwhile, Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Friday that he spoke with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and wants NAFTA to remain a trilateral deal but that he won't reopen talks with the U.S.

Canada's Liberal government says it does not feel bound by the latest NAFTA deadline, and it repeated on Friday that it would not bow to us pressure to sign a quick deal.

NAFTA, a trilateral trade pact comprising the U.S., Canada and Mexico, has been in force since 1994.

Automaker executives briefed on the plans said Saturday they expect a final deal similar to the one reached with Mexico that would effectively cap Canadian vehicle and auto parts exports at a level around 40 to 50 percent higher than existing imports.

"We're very unhappy with the negotiations and the negotiating style of Canada - we don't like their representative very much", Trump told reporters on Wednesday, in an apparent reference to Canada's foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland.

The prime minister, the foreign affairs minister, and Canada's ambassador to the USA are leading the Canadian negotiations from Ottawa, as the US and Mexican imposed deadline of September 30 at midnight closes in.

'In the next 48 hours, we will know if we are going with a trilateral agreement'.

"There's still hope. This is good news", said one Mexican official close to the talks, who requested anonymity to discuss confidential deliberations.

Even though Canada and the USA are at loggerheads, negotiations may continue. "I must be honest with you, we're not getting along at all with their negotiators".

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He has already imposed hefty steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada and Mexico, using a section of US trade law that gives him the authority to do that for national security reasons.

"It's either going to be the text goes in with Mexico and the US or the text goes in with all three countries", he told the Fox News Channel.

These negotiations were first prompted by Trump's belief that the deal as signed 24 years ago was unfair to the US, and upon his election he initiated the talks that have since become a key focus of Freeland's tenure as foreign affairs minister and for the entire federal government, including high-level bureaucrats from various departments.

The U.S. -Mexico text will flesh out an agreement in principle that aims to rebalance automotive trade between the two countries and update NAFTA with new chapters on digital trade and stronger labor and environmental standards. Canadian officials say they never requested a meeting.

Trump, who has already imposed tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum, has also repeatedly threatened to impose even more crippling levies on auto imports if a deal can't get done.

Earlier Sunday, one of Trump's senior trade advisers, Peter Navarro, told Fox News that Canada's positions on dairy sector regulations and on worldwide dispute resolution remained among "several sticking points", but suggested that disagreements over digital intellectual property and certain pharmaceutical protections had been largely resolved.

'There is no fatal date, there is still time to reach a deal, ' he told a press conference earlier Friday. In 2004, the Dominican Republic signed a Central American trade deal three months after the US and several of its neighbors signed.

FILE PHOTO: A commercial truck with a Canada, United States and Mexico flag on its side is seen crossing over the Ambassador Bridge into Windsor, Ontario from Detroit, Michigan U.S. August 29, 2018. The Mexican government said the letter provided insurance that gave the auto industry scope to grow. Days later, Trump's pick for US ambassador to Canada, Kelly Craft, was sworn in to her new post in Ottawa.

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