Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took something of a stab at U.S. President Donald Trump‘s continued insistence on including a sunset clause in any renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
During an armchair discussion at the Economic Club of New York on Thursday, Trudeau hinted at the state of progress on NAFTA negotiations and said Canadian negotiators remain in Washington, trying to hammer out the final details of what he described as a “good deal on the table” right now.
However, he noted that there remain several sticking points — key among them, Trump’s insistence that the deal be renegotiated every five years.
Not likely, Trudeau said.
“We don’t feel a deal with a sunset clause is much of a deal at all,” he told attendees.
“To put it in a frame that maybe someone who did a lot of real estate deals can understand, if you agree to build on a parcel of land, but you only hold the lease for five years and after five years to lose the lease, you might not be interested in building on that land.”
Among the other sticking points in the negotiations have been those dealing with the auto sector; specifically, that 40 per cent of every car be produced in high wage jurisdictions, which Trump has suggested would have the effect of moving a greater chunk of production back into the United States from Mexico.
While Trudeau did not offer specifics, he said Mexico has offered to put quite a bit on the table.
“The specific concern that we know the president has had for a long time has been specifically jobs to Mexico – a lot of concerns about the auto industry – and Mexico has put proposals on the table to actually go a long way to reducing the trade deficit the U.S. has with Mexico.”
Pressure to get to a done deal has mounted in recent weeks.
May 17 had been billed as a deadline for U.S. negotiators to take a deal back to Congress ahead of a looming midterm election in the fall.
Mexico, as well, is heading into a presidential election on July 1.
But Trudeau said the talks happening now will not be rushed.
“It’s right down to the last conversations and we know that those last conversations in any deal are extremely important,” he said. “So I’m feeling very positive about this but it won’t be done until its done”