Trump says he rejected a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau amid an increasingly hostile NAFTA fight

  • President Donald Trump said he rejected an offer to have a bilateral meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
  • During a press conference Wednesday, Trump pointed to Trudeau’s unwillingness to back down in North American Free Trade Agreement talks as why he rejected the meeting.
  • Trump also appeared to take a swipe at Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland, the country’s chief NAFTA negotiator.
  • The US is threatening to leave Canada out of a revised NAFTA, instead moving forward with a bilateral deal with Mexico.

President Donald Trump turned down a one-on-one meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during this week’s United Nations summit due to trade tensions.

Trump claimed he rejected the meeting due to Trudeau’s unwillingness to budge in negotiations over revisions to the North American Free Trade Agreement, known as NAFTA.

“Because his tariffs are too high and he doesn’t seem to want to move and I’ve told him forget about it,” Trump said.

A spokesperson for Trudeau disputed Trump’s claim, telling Business Insider that “no meeting was requested.”

The president also took an apparent swipe at Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s minister of foreign affairs and the country’s chief negotiator in the NAFTA talks.

“We’re very unhappy with the negotiations and the negotiating style of Canada. We don’t like their representative very much,” Trump said.

The comments come as Canada and the US are engaged in talks to revise NAFTA, the two-decade-old trade pact that includes Mexico.

Trump put pressure on Canada by reaching a bilateral agreement with Mexico to update a series of rules on labour rights and auto manufacturing. Following the US-Mexico agreement, Trump has threatened to exclude Canada and move forward with just the bilateral deal.

So far the US and Canada have not been able to come to an agreement on a slew of issues and Trump said that “Canada has a long way to go.”

Issues outstanding include Canada’s protection of its dairy industry, a dispute resolution system that allows each NAFTA member to file a grievance against another, and protections for Canada against future US tariffs.

Trump also threatened to hit Canadian cars and auto parts with additional tariffs if the country does not make a deal.

“If Canada doesn’t make a deal with us, we’re going to make a much better deal,” Trump said. “We’re going to tax the cars that come in, we will put billions and billions of dollars into our Treasury, and frankly we’ll be very happy because it’s actually more money than you can make under any circumstance making a deal.”

A spokesperson for the Canadian government did not immediately return a request for comment.

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