After backing off a self-imposed deadline several weeks ago, US President Donald Trump has said that Canada must sign a deal with the US and Mexico by September 30. With that new cut-off date fast approaching, pressure is mounting for the top negotiators from Ottawa and Washington.
On Friday, top White House aide Kevin Hasset turned up the temperature on Canada’s point person in the trade talks, foreign minister Chrystia Freeland, warning that the US is ready to move ahead with no deal.
“We’re still talking to Canada. We’re getting very, very close to the deadline where we’re going to have to move ahead with Mexico all by themselves,” Hassett said in an interview on Fox News. “I’m a little surprised that the Canadians haven’t signed up yet. They’ve got a really, really good deal that they should be participating in.”
“I worry that politics in Canada is trumping common sense, because there’s a very good deal that was designed by Mexico and the US to appeal to Canada and they’re not signing up, and it’s got everybody over here a little bit puzzled,” he said. “Hopefully at the last minute they come in, but if they don’t we’ll just move ahead with Mexico and we’ll get Canada fixed a little bit later.”
Freeland still has another week to come to agreement with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who she has consistently said is negotiating in good faith to reach a deal.
“Bob and I joke sometimes that we could switch chairs, we know each other’s positions so well,” Freeland said this month in between meetings with Lighthizer, as quoted in a profile by The New York Times Friday.
Before an earlier deadline set by Trump to reach a deal, Freeland described the “intense rhythm” of the negotiations, adding that “the atmosphere is good, and there’s good will on both sides […] We are making progress.”