- U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer
- aims to issue the text of a trade deal with only the U.S. and Mexico
- as early as Friday, two sources told CNBC. The framework would allow Canada to join the agreement at a later date, one source said.
On Tuesday, Lighthizer said the U.S. would “go ahead” on a deal without Canada. But “if Canada comes along now, that would be the best,” he added.
The biggest remaining disagreement appears to be over Canada’s dairy tariffs. Trump cited the duties in listing his frustrations with Canada on Wednesday.
The Trump administration also put tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada this year, increasing tensions between the countries.
As a candidate, the president railed against NAFTA, saying it nudged companies to leave the U.S. and punished American workers. He pledged to revise the trade deal, which took effect more than 20 years ago.
Most lawmakers have pushed the Trump administration to include Canada in a trade deal, and many have questioned the legality of moving forward without all three NAFTA members. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has said a bilateral North American deal brings “serious” legal doubts.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other powerful pro-business groups have also argued striking a deal without Canada would be a mistake.
Update: This story was updated to reflect that the Canadian government says Trudeau did not ask for a one-on-one meeting with Trump.