Trump calls Canada 'very spoiled,' 'difficult to deal with' on NAFTA
Published Wednesday, May 23, 2018 12:54PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, May 23, 2018 10:30PM EDT
OTTAWA – U.S. President Donald Trump is taking aim at Canada, calling his neighbour to the north "very difficult to deal with" and "very spoiled."
Trump’s scolding comes amid reports in U.S. media that the White House is considering steep tariffs of 25 per cent on imported vehicles.
Speaking with reporters Wednesday, Trump levelled the same accusations against Mexico, in regards to the ongoing NAFTA negotiations.
"They have been taking advantage of the United States for a long time. I am not happy with their requests," Trump said of the two countries.
"But I will tell you in the end we win, we will win and we’ll win big," Trump said.
The three countries have been locked in NAFTA renegotiations for months and Trump said his trading partners have been "very spoiled" and said: "What they've asked for is not fair."
Responding to his remarks, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said "all negotiations are challenging" and Canada will continue to work on a new NAFTA deal.
"This is a deal that matters deeply to the citizens of our three countries," he said.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said he didn’t know if anyone should be surprised that Trump made a comment of that nature.
"His tactics so far in dealing with any country, and in particular with Canada, has been to use bullying tactics, and we’ve got to stand up to a bully. We can’t allow those types of comments to throw us off our priorities," Singh said.
'Big news coming soon' on autos: Trump
Trump said that the U.S. auto sector will be "very happy" with the outcome of the North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiation. He said it would become evident "very soon what I’m talking about."
Earlier Wednesday, Trump tweeted that there will be “big news coming soon” for American autoworkers.
Hours later, the White House released a statement that Trump had spoken to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross “to consider initiating a Section 232 investigation into imports of automobiles, including trucks, and automotive parts to determine their effects on America’s national security.”
Trump has suggested new tariffs of 20 to 25 per cent on auto imports, according to The Associated Press, which based its report on an anonymous source.
Rules on autos have been one of the most divisive topics in NAFTA negotiations. The U.S. has reportedly pushed to restrict duty-free status to vehicles only if they have greater parts made in America and North America.
Asked about Trump’s tweet earlier Wednesday, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said she is in continuous contact with her U.S. and Mexican counterparts and said her suitcase is packed if she is needed to "meet anywhere to get this done."
Freeland said that "significant progress" has been made on the auto portion, and the deal as a whole. She insisted that the negotiations continue “at a very intense level.”
"It's never done until the whole thing is done, but we have been making steady, consistent progress on rules of origin on cars," she said.
On CTV’s Question Period on May 13, Rona Ambrose, a member of Canada’s NAFTA Advisory Council said a key sticking point in the talks was the auto portion of the deal, related to workers wages and rules of origin. Ambrose said at the time that this portion has “always been the sweet spot” for Trump.
"If he can say, 'We've reached some kind of an agreement or framework where we can build more cars, build more American parts in North America, in the United States,' that’s a great sign to his voters about more jobs," Ambrose said.
In his comments to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House, Trump also predicted that, in the end, the three countries will "get along."
With files from CTVNews.ca's Graham Slaughter, The Associated Press and The Canadian Press
There will be big news coming soon for our great American Autoworkers. After many decades of losing your jobs to other countries, you have waited long enough!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 23, 2018