Canada will talk NAFTA 'anywhere, anytime': foreign minister

Ottawa (AFP) –


Canada's foreign minister on Saturday said the country is ready to resume North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) renegotiations "anywhere, anytime," according to media reports.

Chrystia Freeland's statement was the first from the Canadian government in several weeks, and came as American and Mexican officials last week said they aimed to conclude talks on remaking NAFTA as soon as next month.

"We're ready to go as quickly and intensively as possible," Freeland told reporters in a telephone conference from Hong Kong.

"Canada is ready and willing to negotiate anywhere, anytime," the minister said, adding she was "very keen" to wrap up the talks.

Canada did not participate in last week's discussions between the US and Mexico, as they focused on bilateral issues -- but Freeland said she remained in contact with them.

Mexico and Canada have both said they want to maintain a trilateral pact, while US President Donald Trump has threatened to pull out and negotiate separate bilateral agreements.

Talks to bring NAFTA up to date began in August 2017, at the request of Trump, who has branded it a "terrible deal."

Negotiations have stumbled due to Trump's favor for a so-called sunset clause in US trade agreements, requiring parties to renew them every five years. After seven sessions, they paused mid-June ahead of the Mexican presidential election on July 1.