President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he rejected a meeting request from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau amid a bitter renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, also known as NAFTA.
“Yeah I did,” Trump said during a news conference amid the United Nations General Assembly in New York. “(Trudeau’s) tariffs are too high and he doesn’t seem to want to move.”
However, Cameron Ahmad, a spokesman for Trudeau, rejected the assertion that a meeting was ever requested, saying: “No meeting was requested and we do not have any comment beyond that.”
The President also suggested there is deep mistrust in Chrystia Freeland, the lead Canadian trade negotiator, and her team.
“We’re not getting along at all with their negotiators,” Trump said, warning that the US would soon go after Canadian auto imports.
Trump has repeatedly threatened to cut Canada out of a trade agreement if the country does not agree with his terms.
Earlier in September, Trump tweeted that there is “no political necessity to keep Canada in the new NAFTA deal.”
“If we don’t make a fair deal for the U.S. after decades of abuse, Canada will be out,” Trump tweeted. He also urged Congress not to “interfere” with negotiations “or I will simply terminate NAFTA entirely & we will be far better off.”
However, it would not dramatically change how the car industry does business. The deal, if enacted, would not be nearly as disruptive as what Trump has long threatened, to get rid of NAFTA, which he claimed had cost thousands of auto industry jobs.
The deal with Mexico left open the question of whether Canada, the third country in NAFTA, would agree to the changes.
Mexico and Canada have stood firm on the importance of maintaining the trilateral format of the NAFTA free trade deal, even as Trump has signaled a desire for individual deals with each country.
The 24-year-old trade agreement generally prevents the three parties from imposing tariffs on imports from one another. But Trump has called the agreement “the worst deal maybe ever signed” and moved ahead with tariffs earlier this year.
In May, the United States imposed steep tariffs on steel and aluminum from much of the world, including Mexico. In response, Mexico slapped tariffs on $3 billion of US goods, including steel, pork, apples, potatoes, bourbon and different types of cheese. Canada imposed tariffs on $12.5 billion of US goods, including steel, toffee, maple syrup, coffee beans and strawberry jam.
CNN’s Paula Newton, Jeremy Diamond, Katie Lobosco, Chris Isidore and Julia Horowitz contributed to this report.