Canada welcomes the suggestion by U.S. President Donald Trump that the deadline for concluding talks to modernize NAFTA could be extended, Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters on Friday.
Trump told The Wall Street Journal a day earlier that "a lot of things are hard to negotiate" ahead of a Mexican presidential election later this year.
Trump said he would be "a little bit flexible" on his threat to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement because Mexico is facing that presidential election.
Talks to update NAFTA resume Jan. 23 in Montreal and are due to wrap up by end-March.
Freeland said on Jan. 11 that Canada would bring “new ideas” for “unconventional” U.S. proposals, though she didn’t say which. One of the government officials said she was referring to the auto sector. Both officials said Canada would not give a full autos counter-proposal, and spoke on condition they not be identified.
The U.S. proposed a vehicle require a higher percentage of North American content to be eligible for duty-free status. The U.S. also wants 50 per cent of that content to be American.
“When it comes to the more unconventional U.S. proposals, we have been doing some creative thinking, we have been talking with Canadian stakeholders, and we have some new ideas that we look forward to talking with our U.S. and Mexican counterparts about in Montreal,” Freeland said in London, Ont., in comments aired by the CBC. “I think if there’s goodwill on all sides, we could have a great outcome in Montreal.”