June 19, 2018 / 5:37 PM / a year ago

Canada foreign minister: deal to update NAFTA is still possible

FILE PHOTO: Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland gestures during a joint news conference on the closing of the seventh round of NAFTA talks in Mexico City, Mexico, March 5, 2018. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido/File Photo

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Canadian government believes a deal to update the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is still possible despite a U.S. move to impose tariffs on Canadian and Mexican steel and aluminum, Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Tuesday.

Talks to modernize NAFTA have effectively stalled as Canada and Mexico struggle to accommodate U.S. demands for major changes.

“A modernized win-win-win deal that benefits all three NAFTA partners is possible and we continue to work hard and patiently to achieve this outcome,” Freeland said to legislators on the House of Commons international trade committee.

Freeland said she had discussed NAFTA with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer over the last few days.

“I remain convinced there is goodwill and a desire to move forward on the NAFTA negotiations ... we will be working hard over the summer,” she added.

Freeland repeated the Liberal government’s assertion that the NAFTA talks were on a separate track from the tariffs. Canada is preparing a retaliatory list of measures which it says will come into force on July 1.

U.S. President Donald Trump also said on Tuesday that progress was being made in the NAFTA talks, holding out the prospect of striking bilateral pacts if a three-way deal could not be reached.

Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Grant McCool and Rosalba O'Brien

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