Prime Minister Justin Trudeau brushed off Thursday the US president's criticism of Canada in continental trade talks, saying Donald Trump views them as hard ‘because Canadians are tough negotiators.’
Negotiations to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) have stalled after a year of talks, despite ramping up in recent weeks after the US and Mexico made a breakthrough on bilateral issues.
According to officials, Canada's insistence on a trade dispute provision and its refusal to open up its protected dairy sector are the last major sticking points.
Ottawa is also seeking assurances that the US won't, after signing a new NAFTA deal, turn around and hit Canada with punitive auto tariffs.
‘The Americans are finding that the negotiations are tough because Canadians are tough negotiators, as we should be,’ Trudeau told reporters outside his parliamentary office.
‘A good and fair deal is still very possible,’ he added. ‘But we won't sign a bad deal for Canada.’
On Wednesday in New York, Trump said he refused to meet with Trudeau on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly because Canada was treating the United States ‘very badly.’
‘I must be honest with you, we're not getting along with their negotiators,’ Trump said. ‘We think their negotiators have taken advantage of our country for a long time.’
‘With Canada, it's very tough,’ he said, adding that there was ‘still a chance’ of reaching a deal with Canada.
‘I'm not making (a deal that is) anything near what they want to do,’ the American president added.