Canada, US resume talks to salvage NAFTA trade pact – Reuters

WASHINGTON/OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada insisted there was still room to salvage the North American Free Trade Agreement as its officials met U.S. negotiators for a second round of talks on Wednesday.

Yet there were few signs that a deal was near, and comments by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday indicated there would be little compromise from Ottawa on its red-line issues.

President Donald Trump warned on Wednesday that Canada would be the loser from any failure to strike a deal and said that “over the next day or two we’ll see what happens”.

Last week Trump inked a deal with Mexico and said he was ready to press ahead with a bilateral deal without Canada, effectively killing the three-country pact that has been in existence since 1994 and accounts for $1.2 trillion in trade.

Canada wants a permanent exemption from Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs and the threat of auto tariffs to be removed. It also wants to continue protections for its dairy industry and defend lumber exports to the United States, which have been hit with duties.

Toting popsicles for the waiting press in a sweltering Washington, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland repeated earlier remarks about the negotiations making progress as she entered the U.S. Trade Representative offices in the capital to meet with Robert Lighthizer, Trump’s top trade official.

As the two sides met for talks, new economic data showed that the U.S. trade deficit with Canada grew to $3.1 billion in July. This could provide ammunition to Trump who has accused Canada of “cheating” Americans.

Trump nearly tore up the NAFTA pact last year after visiting farmers in Wisconsin, a major U.S. producer of dairy products that Washington says has been hurt by Canadian protectionism.

Trump charges that the 1994 pact, which underpins $1.2 trillion

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