White House not ruling out slapping auto tariffs on Canada  

The suggestion comes as Canada remains on the sidelines of potential NAFTA negotiations, which the U.S. and Mexico continued in Washington last week. Mexico has maintained it would like a trilateral deal, with representatives maintaining close contact with Canadian counterparts, namely Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland.

“We speak to her almost every day,” Mexico’s foreign minister Luis Videgaray told reporters Friday.

By contrast, talks between the Trump administration and Canada have been characterized as difficult, the senior U.S. official said, noting that relations had soured since Prime Minister Trudeau’s press conference at the G7. The official acknowledged that with Mexico’s election in the rear view, Trudeau’s 2019 re-election bid may become a complicating factor.

“Auto tariffs would not be good for Trudeau,” the senior administration official said, without elaborating on at what point in talks the U.S. would potentially consider introducing them.

Cameron Ahmad, a spokesman for the Canadian government, said, “We are in regular contact with our counterparts, and we look forward to continuing negotiations this month.”

A Canadian official suggested such comments be viewed as U.S. posturing amid active trade negotiations. Canada’s Ambassador to the U.S. told The Globe and Mail he expected negotiations between the U.S. and Canada to resume “within the next 10 days.”

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, which is leading NAFTA talks, declined to comment.

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