Speaking at an event in North Carolina on Friday afternoon, the president added that “it’s just fine” if the U.S. does not make a deal with Canada. But he also tacked on a familiar threat to nudge Canada toward an agreement: tariffs.
“We just have to tariff those cars coming in. That’s a lot of money coming into the coffers of the United States,” he said.
After Friday’s talks wrapped up, top Canadian trade negotiator Chrystia Freeland said that “with good will and flexibility on all sides, I know we can get” to a deal. But she stressed that Canada would not sign an agreement that it does not consider beneficial for its people.
“The government of Canada will not sign an agreement unless it’s good for Canada and good for Canadians,” she said.
The U.S. has focused in particular on Canada’s agricultural policy, which Trump contends has unfairly curbed sales of U.S. dairy products there. He also aims to boost American farmers in Midwestern states who helped to propel him to the White House. Many of those farmers have taken a hit from the effects of the White House’s mounting trade conflicts with China, Canada, Mexico and the European Union.
When asked about potential sticking points, including agriculture, the auto and pharmaceutical industries, Freeland said “we’re not going to negotiate in public.” Pressed on whether she could negotiate with the Trump administration after what the president said Thursday, she responded that she has worked with Lighthizer, who “has brought good faith and goodwill to the table.”
In his official notification to Congress on Friday, the president outlined some of his goals for a trade agreement with Canada and Mexico, which he hopes to sign by the end of November. He contended that his administration has made progress toward a deal that “will help American farmers by ensuring fairer market conditions and improved market access” and “create a more level playing field for American workers.”
“In short, this agreement is a great deal for the American people. It sets a new tone for all trade agreements, proof of the high standard that my Administration will require of any country entering a new trade agreement with the United States,” the president wrote.