Updated at 4:39 p.m. ET
After days of intense negotiations, the U.S. and Canada failed to agree on a deal by a Friday deadline to update the North American Free Trade Agreement.
But U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said that President Trump notified Congress of his intent to sign a trade agreement with Mexico “and Canada, if it is willing – 90 days from now.”
Lighthizer said the talks with Canada were “constructive, and we made progress. Our officials are continuing to work toward agreement.” U.S. trade officials will meet with their Canadian counterparts next Wednesday, he said.
Trump said he intends to enter into an agreement “in a timely manner, to meet the high standards for free, fair, and reciprocal trade,” in a formal letter to Congress. Trump said the proposed deal would help American farmers through improved market access, create “a more level playing field” for American workers, and include tough labor and environmental rules.
In a news conference, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland confirmed that the talks toward an agreement with all three countries would continue.
“We know that a win-win-win agreement is within reach and that is what we are working toward,” she said. “We’ve made good progress, but there’s still work to be done.”
Canada rejoined NAFTA talks on Tuesday, a day after the U.S. and Mexico reached a deal tweaking the free trade agreement. Trump said he had a new name for that pact: the United States-Mexico Trade Agreement.
The White House had said a deal with Canada had to be reached by Friday, when it would send the Mexico agreement to Congress for a 90-day review required by law.
The new agreement would take over for NAFTA, the landmark pact reached in 1994. That deal was struck among three countries — Canada, the U.S. and Mexico — and removed many barriers to trade and investment among them.
Originally proposed by President Ronald Reagan, NAFTA was approved by Congress after lengthy negotiations and signed into law by President Bill Clinton.
Since the agreement took effect on Jan. 1, 1994, trade among the three countries has skyrocketed, and industries such as autos and trucks have flourished under elaborate supply chains that crisscross national borders tariff-free.
NPR’s Jim Zarroli contributed to this story.
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