US and Canada talk NAFTA trade deal in Washington

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President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump welcome Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau to the Oval Office of the White House, Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

At the White House, the leaders of Canada and the United States have wrapped up a meeting, where high on the agenda was renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement. U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to scrap it, as the fourth round of those talks got underway Wednesday.

CGTN’s Jessica Stone reports.

Despite spending less than three hours at the White House, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife got a high-level welcome at the White House. While U.S. President Donald Trump and Trudeau have been friendly in public, privately their countries are driving hard bargains on trade.

Washington has slapped duties on Canadian aircraft and lumber. And American trade negotiators are also talking tough on dairy and wine.

Canada is the number one market for U.S. exports, accounting for more than half-trillion dollars in bilateral trade last year, but President Trump threatened to leave the NAFTA deal, citing “fairness.”

“We have to protect our workers, and in all fairness the Prime Minister wants to protect Canada and his people also. So we’ll see what happens with NAFTA,” President Trump said. “But I’ve been opposed of NAFTA for a long time in terms of the fairness of NAFTA. I said we’ll renegotiate. And, I mean, I think Justin understands this- if we can’t make a deal it’ll be terminated and it’ll be fine.”

After meeting with Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau reiterated the benefits of U.S.-Canada trade relations.

“The U.S. has no bigger customer than Canada. Every year, the U.S. ships more goods to Canada, than it does to China, Japan and the U.K., combined.”

A Canadian government spokesperson says Trudeau was already in Washington for another conference, and did not want to miss an opportunity to meet with the U.S. president.

The two parties did announce they’ve come to agreement on one aspect of the agreement. According to the U.S. Trade Representative, the U.S., Canada and Mexico have agreed to a fairer way of enforcing rules governing competition. The changes allow each party to defend their ‘national interests.’ They’ve also agreed to extend this round through next Tuesday to make more progress.