Trudeau, Trump: NAFTA talks could conclude soon

Ottawa (AFP) –


Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and US President Donald Trump discussed Monday ongoing negotiations to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement, with the White House highlighting the "importance" of reaching a quick conclusion.

While Trudeau's office mentioned the "progress" made, and the "possibility of bringing the negotiations to a prompt conclusion," the US side was more direct.

"President Trump underscored the importance of quickly concluding an agreement," the White House said in a statement.

The pair also discussed the upcoming Group of Seven (G7) summit in Canada, Trudeau's office said.

Canada, Mexico and the US are renegotiating their 24-year-old free trade pact -- a process triggered last year by Trump, who called the deal a "disaster" that has destroyed US jobs.

He has repeatedly threatened to leave the pact if a satisfactory deal is not reached.

If the agreement is not finalized by Friday, he will have to decide whether to keep the current agreement until talks can resume next year, or try to submit a partial deal to Congress.

The NAFTA revision is vital for another reason: the exemptions for Canada and Mexico from steep US tariffs on steel imports expire June 1.

Unless officials agree on terms covering steel and aluminum, the tariffs would take effect.