OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — With Mexico’s presidential election out of the way, Canada is renewing its push to speed up the NAFTA renegotiation this summer.
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has said that she spoke with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer six times last week and that she wants NAFTA talks to kick into a higher gear this summer.
U.S. President Donald Trump seems in no rush to sign a new NAFTA deal. In a Fox News interview that aired Sunday, Trump said he was holding out until after the fall’s midterm election to get a better deal for the U.S.
The effort to restart stalled negotiations comes after the election of leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador as president. He said he supports the continued renegotiation of NAFTA and wants his own team of experts to be part of the talks before he takes office Dec. 1.
On Monday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with Lopez Obrador by phone. The two discussed “mutually beneficial economic and trading relationship between the two countries,” Trudeau’s office said in a statement.
The renewed call for negotiations also comes as Canada and the U.S. are swapping punitive tariffs on steel, aluminum and a host of consumer and agricultural products.
Trump has publicly complained about Canada’s supply-management trade barriers, particularly on dairy, poultry and egg products. On Monday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Canada had “taken advantage” of U.S. farmers.
Quebec’s dairy producers association disagreed, telling The Associated Press in an email that American overproduction is the real cause of the U.S.’s problem with Canada’s dairy tariffs. Phasing out Canadian dairy tariffs would “destroy Canada’s dairy production” without actually resolving the U.S.’s production problems, the association said.