US and Canada reach deal on NAFTA

14:09 | 01/10/2018 Cooperation

Canada has agreed to sign on to a trade deal between US and Mexico, preserving the three-country North American Free Trade Agreement after more than a year of tortuous negotiations, a US official and a Canadian official told CNN late Sunday.

The US and Canadian governments agreed to a deal that would allow greater access to Canada's dairy market and address concerns about potential auto tariffs just hours before a self-imposed midnight deadline, the officials said.

Further details are expected before midnight.

Negotiators from all three countries spent all weekend working over the phone, hoping to keep the trilateral deal intact.

Earlier in the evening, President Donald Trump was briefed on the nearly finalized negotiations by US Ambassador Robert Lighthizer and White House adviser Jared Kushner.

The new treaty is expected to be signed by Trump and his Mexican and Canadian counterparts. Congress will then have 60 days to review and approve the new deal.

Ahead of the weekend's talks, several lawmakers had warned that they would not support a deal without Canada.

"It would be a monumental mistake to do this without Canada," US Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, the top Democrat on the Senate committee that oversees trade, said Friday, before the text was delivered. "It's basically surrendering on fixing NAFTA."

The Trump administration has been working to sign a new trade deal before Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto leaves office on December 1. To meet that deadline, the text of the agreement had to be submitted to Congress before October.

Negotiators from the three countries began talks about updating NAFTA more than a year ago. Trump had campaigned on ripping up the trade pact, calling it "the worst deal maybe ever signed."

In August, the United States and Mexico resolved an issue over auto manufacturing, but several sticking points with Canada remained. Trump wanted Canada to open its dairy market to US farmers, and Canada wanted to preserve a mechanism for resolving disputes.

Canada and Mexico are two of the biggest trading partners with the United States. A deal that leaves one of them out could cause chaos for businesses that rely on imports.

The US Chamber of Commerce has said it would be "unacceptable to sideline Canada, our largest export market in the world." Vehicles, machinery, and agricultural products make up much of the goods traded.