President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he rejected a meeting request from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau amid a bitter renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, also known as NAFTA.
"Yeah, I did", he told a news conference in NY when asked by a reporter whether he had rejected a one-on-one meeting with Trudeau.
A spokesperson for the Prime Minister's Office curtly rejected the notion to CTV News, saying "no meeting was requested" with Trump.
"We will continue to negotiate with a view to getting a deal that is in Canada's national interest", he said. "That's the mother lode, that's the big one".
He added: "We're sort of running out of time".
Specifically addressing Canada's NAFTA team, Trump said: "We don't like their representative very much". Tariffs are paid by importers of products, not foreign countries, and USA business executives have said they will probably be forced to pass these costs on to consumers.
But Trump suggested he may go forward with a revamped NAFTA without Canada.
The Trade Representative is supposed to meet with Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland sometime during the United Nations General Assembly meeting in NY, but an unnamed senior administration official said that chances of a last-minute deal are slim.
A Trump administration official said the text of a side deal the United States has reached with Mexico was set to be published on Friday.
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That could end up hurting USA auto companies that make cars in Canada and buy auto parts from Canada.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin previously said the president does want to secure a new trade deal with Canada regardless of when or how it happens.
If differences with Ottawa can not be resolved by then, the Trump administration will ask Congress to approve a Mexico-only deal, he said.
"We don't have any comment beyond that", the spokesperson said.
Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, speaks during a news conference at U.N. headquarters during the General Assembly of the United Nations in Manhattan, New York, U.S., September 26, 2018.
'We think their negotiators have taken advantage of our country for a long time, ' he said. It's been very bad for the United States. "I've seen thousands of plants and factories close". "If Canada doesn't make a deal with us, we're going to make a much better deal - we're going to tax the cars that come in".
He also said he is still willing to put a "motherload" tariff on Canadian auto parts, which could affect $200bn of Canadian exports to the US.
Meanwhile, analysts with JPMorgan Chase predict that if the United States and Mexico proceed with the deal alone, the Canadian dollar would be gravely impacted.