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Freeland to head back to Washington for high-level NAFTA negotiations

OTTAWA — Canada’s foreign affairs minister will be back in Washington for one more day of trade talks as the bid to save the North American Free Trade Agreement navigates the duelling schedules of its principal actors — as well as the weather.

Chrystia Freeland will return to the NAFTA table this morning before attending Liberal caucus meetings in Saskatoon that begin later today and run through Thursday.

Her counterpart, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, spent Monday in Brussels for trade discussions with the European Union — preliminary talks that are scheduled to resume later this fall.

There’s another wild card in Washington: hurricane Florence, a monster Category 4 storm that’s bearing down on the U.S. east coast and is sure to make its presence felt in the national capital area later in the week.

Freeland and Lighthizer left the bargaining table Friday without a deal following two weeks of what she has described as intense but productive negotiations.

Ottawa and Washington are trying to reach an agreement that could be submitted to the U.S. Congress by month’s end. A deal would see Canada join a preliminary trade agreement the Trump administration struck last month with Mexico.

The two sides have so far been unable to break an impasse over U.S. access to the Canadian dairy market, a cultural exemption for Canada and the Chapter 19 dispute resolution mechanism.

The renegotiation of the 24-year-old NAFTA, which also includes Mexico and is integral to the continent’s economy, has dragged on for 13 months.

The Canadian Press

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