NAFTA talks down to ‘last conversations’: Justin Trudeau

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau touted his close and “multilayered” relationship with President Donald Trump, saying he felt positive about a potential deal on the North American Free Trade Agreement.

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“It’s right down to sort of the last conversations,” he told Susan Li of FOX Business in an interview Thursday at the Economic Club of New York. “And we know those last conversations in any deal are extremely important. So I’m feeling positive about this.”

Top Canadian officials are currently in Washington for negotiations with U.S. officials on NAFTA. While there’s a “good deal” on the table, Trudeau said one of the sticking points is the inclusion of a five-year sunset clause. Trump’s insistence on that drew a swift rebuke from Canada and Mexico.

“In that kind of uncertainty around investing, it’s hard to imagine a lot of folks being willing to make a five-year investment in Canada,” Trudeau said. “We don’t really feel that a deal with a sunset clause is much of a deal at all.”

The decades-old trade agreement has been a frequent target of Trump, who has criticized large trade deficits the U.S. with Mexico and Canada, as well as the relocation of American jobs and companies.

U.S. goods and services traded with Mexico totaled an estimated $616.6 billion in 2017, with a deficit of $64.1 billion. Washington has a $2.77 billion surplus in trade in goods and services with Canada.

Trudeau declined to say whether he thought a deal could be reached by the end of the year. “We feel there is a good deal that actually achieves the things the president certainly made very clear he wanted to see out of an improved NAFTA,” he said. “We’ve put a number of things on the table. … And I think there’s reason to feel positive about the work we’ve done and what the coming days could bring.” U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan has said it will be hard for the current Congress to vote on NAFTA changes if it’s not notified of a deal by May 17.

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