Canadian officials are convinced that United States President Donald Trump will be pulling Washington out of negotiations with Canada and Mexico over the North American Free Trade Agreement, according to Reuters news agency.
The U.S. dollar rose sharply against Canadian and Mexican currencies following the report, with the U.S. calling the charges “unfounded”.
The three North American countries have been working to renegotiating the 1990 agreement since 2016, on the initiation of Mr. Trump, who mostly targets Mexico in claiming that NAFTA is harmful to the U.S. economy.
Canada and the U.S. have an overall largely equal trading relationship, with 17 states having Canada as their top importing partner, with the northern country being the United States’ second highest importer, according to official figures.
Two unnamed government sources told Reuters that the official withdraw is expected at the end of January, near the time that negotiators will reconvene in Montreal for a sixth round of talks.
However, Toronto Star journalist Tonda MacCharles disputed the report, saying that dual government sources told her the Reuters headline was “torqued” with Ottawa still operating on the assumption that “progress can be made”.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Minister Crystia Freeland have been working against the pressure of Trump, who called NAFTA the “worst trade deal” ever created, and has left other international organizations such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
However, politicians from his own Republican Party and business leaders from across several industries have hailed NAFTA as a largely beneficial and positive agreement.
The United States would have to give a six month warning before leaving the trade deal, something the president has repeated warned he would do.
The report released as Ottawa launched wide-ranging trade dispute against the United States, targeting Washington’s use of anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties, according to a World Trade Organization filing dated Dec. 20 and published on Wednesday.
Canada appears to be making the legal effort on behalf of an international group of countries that include some 200 examples of wrongdoing with the European Union, Brazil, China and other Asian countries.
Canada’s Freeland said that the trade complaint was triggered by the “unfair and unwarranted” U.S. duties against softwood lumber industry and an effort in defense of forestry jobs, a major negotiation issue in NAFTA talks along with the dairy industry.
The filing is 32 pages of criticism of U.S. trade technicalities from duties, controls and the six-member International Trade Commission.
More details to follow. Image of Justin Trudeau and Donald Trump from Vice News.