WASHINGTON/TORONTO -- Canada and the United States ended talks on Friday to update the North American Free Trade Agreement in a mood soured by President Donald Trump's comments that a pact would be on U.S. terms while Ottawa stood firm against signing "just any deal."
The talks concluded with no agreement.
Trump told Congress that he plans to sign a trade deal with Mexico in 90 days, which Canada could join "if it is willing," Trump's top trade official said late Friday afternoon.
The Trump administration believes that it will be in compliance with congressional "fast-track" trade negotiating authority whether it pursues a bilateral trade deal with Mexico or the trilateral NAFTA that also includes Canada, a senior administration official said on Friday.
The official told reporters on a conference call that the administration was on track to publish text of the accord within 30 days as required by the fast-track statute.
In a statement, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said U.S. officials would resume talks with their Canadian counterparts next Wednesday with the aim of getting a deal all three nations could sign.
Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland expressed confidence that Canada could reach agreement with the United States on a renegotiated NAFTA trade pact if there was "good will and flexibility on all sides."
"We continue to work very hard and we are making progress. We're not there yet," Freeland told reporters after days-long talks wrapped up without a deal.
"We know that a win-win-win agreement is within reach," she added. "With goodwill and flexibility on all sides, I know we can get there."
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday said he’ll only sign an agreement that’s right for Canada. Trudeau reiterated his government wouldn’t concede to U.S. demands to dismantle its dairy system, known as supply management.
Earlier Friday afternoon, Trump confirmed off-the-record remarks he made to Bloomberg News this week that any trade deal with Canada would be "totally on our terms." The Toronto Star first reported on the remarks citing remarks it had obtained.
He tweeted, verbatim: "Wow, I made OFF THE RECORD COMMENTS to Bloomberg concerning Canada, and this powerful understanding was BLATANTLY VIOLATED. Oh well, just more dishonest reporting. I am used to it. At least Canada knows where I stand!"
Trump, according to the report, said he frequently reminds Canada that if necessary he will slap painful tariffs on auto imports. Such a move, experts warn, would inflict heavy damage on the countries' deeply integrated auto sector.
"Off the record, Canada's working their ass off. And every time we have a problem with a point, I just put up a picture of a Chevrolet Impala,'' Trump said, according to the article.
The Impala is manufactured at the General Motors plant in Oshawa, Ont.
Asked by a reporter how Canada could negotiate with Trump in light of the comments, Freeland said the American negotiating team has acted in good faith.
"My negotiating counterparty is Ambassador Lighthizer,'' she said. "He has brought good faith and good will to the table.''
Lighthizer and Freeland resumed talks for a fourth day on Friday. Mexico was on standby to return to discussions aimed at ending a year of hard-fought negotiations on the three-way NAFTA.
Global equities were also down following the hawkish turn in Trump's comments on trade.
Lighthizer has refused to budge despite repeated efforts by Freeland to offer some dairy concessions to maintain the Chapter 19 independent trade dispute resolution mechanism in NAFTA, The Globe and Mail reported on Friday.
However, a spokeswoman for USTR said Canada had made no concessions on agriculture, which includes dairy, but added that negotiations continued.
The United States wants to eliminate Chapter 19, the mechanism that has hindered it from pursuing anti-dumping and anti-subsidy cases. Lighthizer said on Monday Mexico had agreed to cut the mechanism. For Ottawa, Chapter 19 is a red line.
At a speech in North Carolina on Friday Trump took another swipe at Canada. "I love Canada, but they've taken advantage of our country for many years," he said.
Flavio Volpe, president of Canada's Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association, said he believes progress has been made between the U.S. and Canada and that a deal is possible in the coming days.
"I think a lot of us were expecting the real possibility of getting it done today. I’m not dismayed by the fact that we’re moving on to next week," he said. "I'm eager to see NAFTA 2.0 pass."
Automotive News Canada and Bloomberg contributed to this report.