Canada is likely to agree to a NAFTA deal with the US this week, business council says

Canada will restart official talks with the United States on Tuesday in the hope that an updated version of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) will be signed off in the coming days.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland is in Washington to continue negotiations, following the news that Mexico and the U.S. have already reached an agreement that rewrites the trilateral trade pact, first ratified in 1994.

That agreement has been hailed by President Donald Trump as “a big day for trade,” sending U.S. stocks to fresh all-time highs Monday, with Asian equities also propelling higher Tuesday.

Maryscott Greenwood, CEO of the Canadian American Business Council (CABC), told CNBC on Tuesday that she thought Canada would join the arrangement and could even finalize a new NAFTA deal this week.

“There is only a handful of tough issues left. Mexico is already there. I think we can get there this week, I really do,” she said, before cautioning that this week’s trilateral talks would be “harsh” and “intensive.”

Later Tuesday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC that he remained hopeful that a revamped trade deal will soon proceed with Canada onboard — but cautioned that the U.S. is ready to go ahead with what it has negotiated with Mexico.

“This is a great move forward for trade,” Mnuchin told CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” a day after the White House announced that it had reached an agreement with Mexico. “I think our objective is to try to get Canada on board quickly,” he added.

Trump has threatened to put tariffs on Canadian-made cars if Canada does not join the updated deal.

“I think with Canada, frankly, the easiest we can do is to tariff their cars coming in. It’s a tremendous amount of money and it’s a very simple negotiation. It could end in one day and we take in a lot of money the following day,” Trump said.

Greenwood said that while Canadians aren’t happy about threats from the U.S. leader, they recognized that the window of opportunity for a deal could be short.

“Canada realizes that the U.S. gets kind of attention-deficit on these things and if we don’t do a deal now, maybe the U.S. turns its attention to China or the WTO (World Trade Organization) or to other deals,” she added.

Greenwood said Canada and Mexico both want a formal dispute resolution arrangement stitched into the agreement, but the U.S. would prefer to deal with problems on a looser basis. She added that Canada also had concerns about U.S. government procurement while U.S. officials would likely want changes to the supply and management system that Canada uses for its dairy and agriculture.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement Monday that Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau discussed trade in a telephone call on Monday.

U.S. stock index futures fluctuated ahead of Tuesday’s open, as investors kept an eye on news coming out of the political space.

Around 9 a.m. ET, Dow Jones industrial average futures rose 71 points, indicating a gain of 95.36 points at the open, with the S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 futures pointing to a flat-to-upbeat start to the day.

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