A Trump administration official announced on Friday that a trade deal with Mexico was "very, very close" to proceeding without Canada, as the U.S. and its northern neighbor try to hash out a deal before an Oct. 1 deadline.
Is Canadian politics to blame?
During a Fox News interview on Friday, Kevin Hassett, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, said, “We’re still talking to Canada, and we’re getting very, very close to the deadline where we’re going to have to move ahead with Mexico all by themselves.”
Hassett blamed the delay on Canadian politics:
I worry that politics in Canada is trumping common sense, because there's a very good deal that was designed by Mexico and the U.S. to appeal to Canada and they're not signing up, and it's got everybody over here a little bit puzzled. And so, hopefully at the last minute they'll come in. But if they don't we'll just move ahead with Mexico and we'll get Canada fixed a little bit later.
Canada has objected to the Trump administration's request to allow tariffs on Canadian auto imports, and the two nations have disagreed over how to handle future trade dispute settlements and Canada's massive dairy industry.
Canada strictly regulates its dairy industry and slaps heavy tariffs on dairy imports, in order to keep milk artificially more expensive thus making it more profitable for its farmers.
Canadian trade minister Chrystia Freeland has noted that even with these systems in place, Canada imported five times as much dairy products from the U.S. as it exported to the U.S.
“I would call that a pretty good deal,” Freeland told Canada's House of Commons.
Wait...what happened to NAFTA?
Trump has dismissed the 26-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement as “the worst trade deal in history.”
During a televised call on Aug. 27 with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, Trump praised the progress the two countries had made toward creating a new trade deal. Trump said during that call that if negotiations with Canada failed, he would “like to call this deal the U.S. and Mexico Trade Agreement” because the name NAFTA “lot of bad connotations.”