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President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asked him during a Thursday phone call "to intervene and call on the US government to reach an agreement" with Canada.

"The U.S. knows what they need to do to get a deal, so it's really up to them", said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity given the sensitive nature of the talks.

The prospects for a quick deal to update the North American Free Trade Agreement appeared to dim on Wednesday after Trump blasted Canada's stance and threatened to impose tariffs on cars imported from Canada.

"A good and fair deal is still very possible - but we won't sign a bad deal for Canadians". "We're very unhappy with the negotiations and the negotiating style of Canada".

US lawmakers at the Lighthizer meeting cited him as saying the earliest they would be able to consider a deal with Mexico, even a bilateral agreement, would probably be next February or March.

Canadian officials said they do not believe Trump can rework NAFTA into a bilateral deal without the approval of Congress. Talks remain snagged on several issues, including US demands for greater access to Canada's dairy market and Canadian resistance to scrapping a dispute settlement procedure.

The back and forth about the supposed meeting comes amid the US and Canada's acrimonious renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, and follows months of souring relations between the two North American neighbors.

However, Canada's transport minister is dismissing the October 1st cutoff as just a creation of the U.S.

Guajardo said his USA and Canadian counterparts "specifically requested" a delay in publishing the text.

While details were scant, the apparent progress was enough to prompt Mexico and Washington to abruptly halt a plan to publish text of their own two-way trade deal, to give Canada more time to join.

Word of enmity between Lighthizer, the U.S. Trade Representative, and Freeland first surfaced in the summer, as the U.S. began what turned out to be a five-week run of talks with Mexico that excluded Canada.

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The publishing of the text starts a months-long process for Congressional approval that will require a lengthy analysis study by the independent USA worldwide Trade Commission and a series of notification periods before an up-or-down vote can occur.

A Canadian government source told AFP that Canada's top negotiator, Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, 'is in constant communication with the Americans, both formally and informally'.

"Canada is exceptionally important".

The U.S. and Mexico are poised to present the text of their bilateral trade deal on Friday, as pressure mounts on Canada to join that pact. "I think it would be malpractice, both for economic and political reasons, not to have a major agreement with Canada", said Senator Ron Wyden, the top Democrat on the tax and trade Senate Finance Committee.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer - Freeland's counterpart at the talks - on Tuesday had complained Canada was not making enough concessions and said time was running out.

It is expected to conform to details already released on auto rules requiring an increase in regional value content to 75 percent from 62.5 percent previously, with 40 percent to 45 percent coming from "high wage" areas, effectively the United States.

Ottawa is also seeking assurances that the United States will not, after signing a new NAFTA deal, turn around and hit Canada with punitive auto tariffs.

And more light is likely to be shed on the enforcement of new labor standards and trade dispute settlement arrangements.

The Trudeau government has branded the tariffs illegal and insulting given the close security relationship between Canada and the US, including their shared membership in Norad, which defends North American airspace. Mexican-made products were hit by both of those actions aimed at protecting US producers from import surges.

Trump's officials have argued that they need to publish the text by Sunday in order to let the outgoing Mexican president, Enrique Pena Nieto, sign the deal by his last full day in office, November 30, and avoid the possibility that Lopez Obrador will demand changes.


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