Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is preaching some caution on expectations for Nafta talks, saying he’s encouraged by the latest optimism but won’t sign just any deal.
Trudeau spoke Thursday in British Columbia at the conclusion of a cabinet meeting, amid U.S.-Mexico talks that are said to be nearing a deal on autos, a key Nafta subject. Trudeau said the latest news has been encouraging while also saying there’d been progress in previous months, too. He said Canada was looking forward to rejoining talks but gave no indication of when that would be.
“We are encouraged by the optimism expressed by the U.S. and Mexico” and are ready to “continue the hard work of modernizing and negotiating a better deal for all of us,” Trudeau said in Nanaimo. “But we also recognize that we will only sign a good deal for Canadians.”
Trudeau’s comments come after the latest Nafta talks, which have excluded Canada for several weeks as the U.S. and Mexico seek to hash out agreement on the core issue of autos. Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said Friday that talks are “ well advanced” but that more work is needed to reach a deal. "We need to have engagement with Canada and the only way it can happen is if we continue through the weekend and into next week,” he said in Washington Thursday.
Several core disputes remain as the Mexicans push for a deal in the next week that could be signed before the incoming president takes office.
“We know that there have been moments of positive enthusiasm and momentum over the past months as this progresses, we seem to be in a more positive moment now, but we’re just going to keep focused on doing the work we need to do to get to the right place for Canadians,” Trudeau said. “We’re working to achieve a good deal, not just any deal.”
Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, who is the minister handling Nafta talks for Trudeau, on Thursday said the U.S. and Mexico “are optimistic, they are making good headway and that is good news for Canada.” Freeland stressed that talks lately have focused on bilateral issues between the U.S. and Mexico.
“In order to get to the ultimate goal that we all share of modernizing and updating Nafta, obviously it’s important to resolve the bilateral issues,” she said. “Our plan is then ultimately to move on to the trilateral issues.”
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