OTTAWA — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau revealed Thursday that he cancelled a meeting this week with President Donald Trump over U.S. demands on NAFTA.
At a news conference to explain Canada’s trade retaliation to Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminium, Trudeau says he was going to meet with the Trump in Washington until the U.S. insisted Canada agree to a controversial “sunset clause” that would have all NAFTA parties agree that the treaty will automatically expire after five years unless it is proactively renewed.
Trudeau says he was prepared to sit down with Trump his week to iron out their differences on NAFTA.
“I stated that I thought we were quite close to reaching an agreement, and perhaps the time had come for me to sit down with the president in Washington in order to finalize the NAFTA agreement,” Trudeau said.
“We already had the bones of a very good agreement for all parties, and I thought it might be opportune for all of us to sit down for a few hours and discuss it.”
Then Trudeau says he received a call from Vice President Mike Pence who said the meeting would only take place if Canada agreed to the sunset clause provision.
“I had to agree to a sunset clause in NAFTA, which is to say every five years, NAFTA would come to an end unless the parties decided to renew it, which is completely unacceptable to us,” Trudeau explained.
“So I answered that, unfortunately, if that was a precondition to our visit, I was unable to accept — and so we did not go to Washington for that day of negotiations.”
In addition to the White House insisting that the steel and aluminum tariffs are necessary for America’s national security, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Thursday that the tariffs are a response to the stalled NAFTA negotiations.