Canada encouraged by signs of progress on US-Mexican NAFTA talks: Freeland



OTTAWA — Canada’s foreign affairs minister says she’s encouraged by signals out of Washington that the United States and Mexico are close to resolving their bilateral issues within the three-country North American Free Trade Agreement.

Speaking to reporters today in Nanaimo, B.C., Chrystia Freeland says she’s been in close contact — including this week — with her U.S. and Mexican counterparts throughout their one-on-one NAFTA talks, which are now in their fifth week.

There’s fresh optimism that U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo could conclude their face-to-face negotiations as early as this week — and open the door for Canada to rejoin the talks.

Some observers say the federal Liberal government has been deliberately sidelined by the Trump administration and could find itself forced into deciding whether to accept a less-appetizing deal hashed out between the U.S. and Mexico.

Freeland insists Canada will very much have a voice in the finalization of the agreement.

Even after the trilateral negotiations resume, there are many tough sticking points that will need to be sorted out for the three partners to conclude talks that have lasted longer than a year.

Freeland is in Nanaimo where the Trudeau government is holding a cabinet retreat as the Liberals make preparations for next month’s return to the House of Commons and for the 2019 federal election.

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