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NAFTA: Lighthizer hints Mexico pact may need to be reopened if delayed

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NAFTA: Lighthizer hints Mexico pact may need to be reopened if delayed

"We're going to tax the cars that come in", Trump said Wednesday during a press conference at the United Nations headquarters in NY.

"There are very large issues", Lighthizer said, playing down chances of a deal with Canada.

Trump went on to criticize Canadian officials and how they have negotiated during the recent NAFTA talks.

Lighthizer said the timetable for the new deal was set up so Pena Nieto can approve it before he leaves office on November 30 - an arrangement that's acceptable to Lopez Obrador.

The U.S. has been holding negotiations with Canada after reaching a trade agreement with Mexico in August.

It is possible that Congress, which strongly prefers an agreement involving Canada, would allow Canada to be added to the U.S. -Mexico text at a later date.

Trump then repeated his displeasure with Canadian trade officials - "I must be honest, we're not getting along at all with their negotiators" - and accused Canada of taking advantage of the USA for years.

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"On steel and aluminum on this point, we started off trying to have some kind of overall agreement that would accomplish that". He has invoked Section 232, a previously obscure provision in US trade law that allows the president to levy tariffs for "national-security" reasons.

He added that the United States was more than willing to slap tariffs on Canadian auto imports, if Canada didn't acquiesce to his demands to reduce tariffs on US dairy.

"I think Canada would like to be in the agreement, I think the USA would like them in the agreement", he said.

Whether Congress will pass a deal that doesn't include Canada remains unclear.

Flavio Volpe, the head of Canada's auto-parts industry lobby, said Mr. Lighthizer was moving the goalposts and that Canada should hold the United States to its original promise that a NAFTA deal would mean no tariffs.

"I don't think there's anything to read into it", Mr. Trudeau said of the tepid greeting, adding he was just making the rounds of the table.

The timeline is important because current Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto wants to sign the deal before he's succeeded by Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in December, Lighthizer said. "It was an interaction like so many are (at the) United Nations - quick but cordial. There are all sorts of opportunities for me to speak with President Trump and that was not the time". However, if anything that might add more pressure on the USA, which has squeezed a good deal out of Mexico. "It's been long and exhausting, but I think we've narrowed the gap".

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