Donald Trump claimed he rejected a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over NAFTA, the BBC reported.
The U.S. President said on Wednesday that he declined the chance for a one-on-one meeting with Trudeau during the United Nations General Assembly – but Canada is denying the claim.
The meeting was supposedly about a new North American trade agreement among the United States, Mexico, and Canada, which would replace the current North American Free Trade Agreement. But Justin Trudeau’s spokeswoman Eleanore Catenaro said “no meeting was requested.”
Tensions between the two countries keep rising as the Trump administration continues to take aim at Canada’s dairy tariffs and its auto industry.
“[Mr. Trudeau’s] tariffs are too high and he doesn’t seem to want to move and I told him forget about it. And frankly we’re thinking about just taxing cars coming in from Canada. That’s the mother lode. That’s the big one, ” the U.S. president said. The tax on Canadian auto parts could impact $200 billion of the country’s exports to the U.S.
At the United Nations news conference in New York City, Donald Trump also said he didn’t “like” Canada’s representative, which many assumed was Canadian foreign minister Chrystia Freeland, who has been in charge of negotiations for the three-way deal.
Which one do you believe? Trump says he rejected Trudeau’s request for a one-on-one meeting on NAFTA, BUT Trudeau's Office denied even requesting a meeting with Trump. https://t.co/0v200pu5tr
— EssenViews/Commentary (@essenviews) September 27, 2018
“I must be honest with you, we’re not getting along at all with their negotiators. We’re very unhappy with the negotiations and the negotiating style of Canada. We don’t like their representative very much,” he said.
The Trump administration had already reached a deal with Mexico in August, and stakeholders in both countries have urged the U.S. to include Canada in the agreement. The U.S. president hasn’t ruled out that possibility, but he’s reinforced his unwillingness to compromise.
“I’m not making it anything near what they want to do,” he said.
The United States has already imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from their northern neighbor this year, a move that further increased tensions between the two countries and their respective leaders.
And now, the American government is struggling to meet the self-imposed October 1 deadline to reach a new trade agreement between all three countries. The current NAFTA has been in place since 1994.
During his presidential campaign, Trump vowed to revise the trade deal, claiming it pushed companies to leave the U.S. and punished American workers.
“Trade agreements do take some time, both to negotiate and to update. We are absolutely committed to getting this right,” Freeland said earlier this month.