Home Economics Canadian PM optimistic over NAFTA as deal on autos seen possible

Canadian PM optimistic over NAFTA as deal on autos seen possible

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday for the first time that a deal to renegotiate NAFTA was likely, amid signs negotiators may be closer to settling one of the regional trade pact’s most contentious issues.

“We remain very confident that a win-win-win deal is not only possible, but likely,” Trudeau told a Toronto business audience.

The head of Canada’s Unifor union – who has close ties to Ottawa’s negotiators – said the United States had dropped its insistence that all autos made in NAFTA countries have 50 percent U.S. content. The demand – rejected by Canada and Mexico as completely unworkable – had become a major sticking point.

“The United States withdrew it,” Unifor President Jerry Dias said by phone after speaking to Canadian government officials.

“NAFTA is going nowhere as long as they kept that there and I think they realized that,” he added, noting that U.S. auto companies had lobbied against the idea on the grounds it would disrupt a highly integrated industry.

An industry source familiar with the negotiations also said the United States had dropped its demand and added the “sides are still very far apart, but there’s movement.” Canadian officials were not immediately available for comment.

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