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Trudeau predicts tough NAFTA days ahead

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Staff Writer | September 27, 2017
The top U.S. negotiator at talks to modernize the NAFTA trade pact dismissed questions about why his team had so far failed to produce specific proposals on key issues.
Justin Trudeau
Trade talks   Officials are in Ottawa
He wa saying “I don’t see a problem.” Officials from the United States, Mexico and Canada are in Ottawa for the third of seven planned rounds of talks.

The U.S. delegation has yet to unveil its precise position on several points, prompting concerns the process to update the 1994 pact could drag on beyond the scheduled end-December finish.

“We’ve been working very hard so I don’t see a problem,” John Melle told reporters when pressed on the matter. “We’re moving across the board, so it’s very ambitious.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier predicted some tough days ahead for negotiators and declined to say whether he thought the talks could meet the deadline.

“The negotiations are still under way and of course there will be more difficult discussions in some cases than others,” he told a Toronto news conference. He added: “The negotiations move forward at a certain pace and we respect that reality.”

U.S. President Donald Trump, who frequently describes the treaty as a disaster, is threatening to walk away unless major changes are made.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters that the three sides had made “solid progress” on topics such as electronic border forms and harmonization of regulations.

Pressed on the chances of finishing by the end of the year, she repeated earlier statements that “we want a good deal, not any deal”. Trade talks traditionally leave the toughest topics until the end, she added.