U.S. trade talks called ‘con­struc­tive’; no plan un­veiled

Canada’s leader cau­tions it will not be ‘pushed around.’

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution - - MORE OF TODAY’S TOP NEWS - By Jeanne Whalen and Jeff Stein

WASHINGTON — Ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween the United States and some of its largest trad­ing part­ners con­tin­ued to yield pos­i­tive rhetoric Thurs­day, though the de­tails of any con­crete change re­mained un­clear.

In Washington, Cana­dian For­eign Min­is­ter Chrys­tia Free­land emerged from talks with U.S. Trade Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Robert Lighthizer to say she was “en­cour­aged by the con­struc­tive at­mos­phere” as the coun­tries at­tempt to re­work the North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment.

“Our of­fi­cials did some work, they’ve pre­pared some is­sues for me and Am­bas­sador Lighthizer to take some de­ci­sions, and we’re about to go in to con­tinue ne­go­ti­at­ing to do pre­cisely that,” Free­land told re­porters around mid­day.

And in Brus­sels, the Euro­pean Union’s trade com­mis­sioner, Ce­cilia Malm­strom, said the bloc is will­ing to elim­i­nate tar­iffs on im­ported cars if the U.S. does the same — some­thing Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has pre­vi­ously said he was open to.

The EU cur­rently charges a 10 per­cent tar­iff on im­ported U.S. au­to­mo­biles, while the U.S. charges a 2.5 per­cent tar­iff on Euro­pean cars and a 25 per­cent tar­iff on light-truck and SUV im­ports.

The con­cil­ia­tory lan­guage marks a shift from ear­lier this sum­mer, when the U.S. was slap­ping steep new tar­iffs on its trad­ing part­ners and elic­it­ing re­tal­ia­tory tar­iffs in re­sponse.

On Wed­nes­day, Cana­dian Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau lifted hopes when he told re­porters that it was pos­si­ble the U.S., Canada and Mex­ico could reach a deal on re­work­ing their free­trade agree­ment by to­day.

Trudeau cau­tioned that Canada was still pre­pared to walk away if the deal did not line up in the coun­try’s best in­ter­est.

But the con­tin­ued ne­go­ti­a­tions marked a change from the last sev­eral weeks, when Cana­dian of­fi­cials were largely shut out of trade dis­cus­sions be­cause of Trump’s on­go­ing feud with Trudeau.

The ac­ri­mony boiled over at the G-7 meet­ing in June, when Trump called Trudeau “weak” and ac­cused him of mak­ing “false state­ments.”

Trudeau replied that Canada wouldn’t be “pushed around” and de­scribed as “in­sult­ing” Trump’s in­sis­tence that there were na­tional se­cu­rity con­cerns forc­ing him to slap tar­iffs on im­ported alu­minum and steel.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion wants to send a let­ter to Congress by to­day that would for­mally be­gin a 90-day process for re­work­ing NAFTA. The pre­cise terms of an agree­ment would not have to be com­pleted un­til late Septem­ber un­der that process.

On Mon­day, Trump an­nounced that he had reached a pre­lim­i­nary trade agree­ment with Mex­ico and threat­ened to use it as a re­place­ment for NAFTA, es­sen­tially threat­en­ing to re­move Canada from the ar­range­ment. It’s un­clear whether such a move would be per­mis­si­ble un­der U.S. law, but Canada quickly rushed to the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.