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article imageUS Treasury Secretary confident Congress would pass NAFTA without Canada

By AFP     Sep 27, 2018 in Politics

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday he was confident Congress would approve a new trade deal with Mexico, even if it left out Canada.

However, he said he hoped Washington and Ottawa would be able to reach an agreement.

"I hope so. We have an important trading relationship with Canada," Mnuchin said at a forum, although he declined to speculate on a timetable.

President Donald Trump's trade team last month reached an agreement with Mexico but has yet to overcome the remaining differences with Canada on a rewrite of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The White House has said it intends to sign the deal with Mexico by December 1, when a new government takes office in Mexico City. That means the administration must submit the text of the agreement to Congress by Friday.

However, some US legislators say the White House cannot substitute a three-nation trade pact for one with Mexico alone.

But Mnuchin said, in the event there is no deal with Canada, "I am confident Congress will pass" the "great agreement" with Mexico.

Trump on Wednesday once again criticized Ottawa, saying "Canada has treated us very badly" and threatened to impose tariffs on imported autos.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has said negotiators are "running out of time" to add Canada to the deal, although it could join later. And he said there was still "a fair amount of distance" between the sides.

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