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Senior Canadian officials in Washington for last-minute NAFTA effort

National flags of the United States, Canada, and Mexico fly in the breeze in New Orleans recently. The North American Free Trade Agreement between the three countries is the subject of renegotiations.
National flags of the United States, Canada and Mexico fly in the breeze in New Orleans. - The Canadian Press

WASHINGTON — A high-level Canadian delegation is in Washington today looking to plan a path forward for NAFTA negotiations and see if there is a way to find a quick agreement.

Brian Clow, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's point man for American affairs, is among several Canadian officials here for talks with their counterparts.

Canada's ambassador to Washington, David MacNaughton, says there are high-level conversations going on about what's next.

"We will do an assessment of where are we and is there a chance of pulling all this together in a fairly rapid fashion or not?" MacNaughton said.

This comes as the countries are on deadline for getting a deal in the short term.

Any agreement will have to be voted on by a future U.S. Congress after the midterm elections and may need the assent of Mexico's next president.

But MacNaughton says he believes it's still possible and desirable to achieve an agreement soon.

"We're pretty close," he said. "There are still some tough issues to deal with, but do you really want to kick this down the road and miss the opportunity to ... pull all that good work that's been done together and get something formally done?"

The U.S. objective in these talks was to reduce its trade deficit, he said.

"Eighty per cent of that deficit has to do with autos. We're that close on autos," he said, illustrating with a thumb and index finger held close together. "If you want to get this over the finish line, we're a long way towards getting it there. So let's wrap it up and get it done."

The Canadian Press

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