After Donald Trump's announcement today of a breakthrough in trade talks with Mexico, the statement issued by Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland's office ended with four seemingly incongruous words: "Canada's signature is required". "We are in regular contact with our negotiating partners, and we will continue to work toward a modernized NAFTA" but "we will only sign a new NAFTA that is good for Canada and good for the middle class".
Dairy is a politically charged issue that many analysts have predicted would be among the final conflicts to be addressed in the NAFTA renegotiation.
"The U.S. went from a $1.6 billion goods trade surplus with Mexico to a $70 billion goods trade deficit during that same time period", it added.
Earlier in the day, Trump suggested he would terminate the 24-year-old trilateral pact with Canada and Mexico - a deal that has been critical for the Canadian economy - and replace it. Freeland will arrive for talks, with Lighthizer wielding the deal he already has in hand with Mexico as new leverage.
The minister, Ildefonso Guajardo, told reporters that close to 70 percent of Mexico's auto exports were light vehicles, and were in a position to meet the new NAFTA rules of origin, which determine how much North American content autos must include.
In March this year, Trump imposed tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum imports from overseas. And his administration started a ticking clock, saying it would notify Congress of a deal on Friday whether or not Canada was involved.
The two sides also agreed that 40-45 percent of vehicles must be made at "high wage" factories where workers receive $16 an hour, something that could deter off-shoring U.S. auto manufacturing to Mexico.
"Given the encouraging announcement today of further bilateral progress between the us and Mexico, Minister Freeland will travel to Washington, D.C., tomorrow to continue negotiations", her spokesman said. He also warned that the US and Mexico would move forward bilaterally without Canada.
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The U.S. currency has fallen for three consecutive weeks, and is down almost 2 percent.
The deal included measures to boost the automotive industry in the US.
Any new agreement would have to be ratified by the legislatures of all three countries. "Mexico reserves the right to reform its energy laws, and it's laid down in writing that Mexico's oil and natural resources belong to the nation", he said. "Canada has a bit of room to manoeuvre here", he said.
Michigan's agricultural industry is also hoping the USA locks up an agreement with Canada.
The U.S.is emphasizing the Friday deadline, but there's some wiggle room.
"It's a really good deal for both countries", President Trump said in announcing the agreement from the Oval Office, with Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto participating by telephone.
Two of Donald Trump's top lieutenants turned up the heat on Canada to open up the protected sector that the USA president has repeatedly attacked.
National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow in June hinted in an interview on Fox News that Trump would rather conclude separate bilateral trade deals with Canada and Mexico, rather than renegotiate NAFTA. Instead, the agreement with Mexico extends NAFTA for 16 years but with a review every six years.