'Very good relationship': Trump and Trudeau meet at NATO summit
OTTAWA -- U.S. President Donald Trump congratulated Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on his "great election victory," at the pair’s first meeting since the fall federal election and urged his country's lawmakers to ratify the new NAFTA.
In advance of their bilateral sit-down on the sidelines of a NATO meeting in London, speaking to reporters Trump said it was "an honour to be with a friend," and touted their "very good relationship," as they continue to push for the renegotiated trilateral trade deal to be ratified.
"We're working on the USMCA," said Trump, calling it by the name it goes by in the U.S., adding that it's up to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to bring up the trilateral agreement for a vote in Congress, a vote Trump said would pass.
"It's up to her," Trump said. "It's a lot of jobs for everybody and it replaces a deal that's really a lousy deal."
Trump cautioned that the Democrats should hurry up and allow for the ratification of the deal before Canada and Mexico lose interest.
"It's been there for a longtime and some point perhaps the president of Mexico… they'll get tired and the prime minister will get tired and they'll say 'Look, let's forget this deal' and I could understand it if you did, it's been sitting in Congress now for six or seven months and it's a great deal for everybody so hopefully they can get it done and get it done fast," Trump said.
Trudeau indicated no interest in pulling out of the deal, saying the relationship between Canada and the United States "is incredibly strong, I don't think it's ever been stronger," and that work continues in Canada to also see the new NAFTA implemented.
He called it a "great process" between the countries to see the deal become a reality.
"We have had lot of great conversations about how we're going to keep moving forward to benefit workers in all three of our countries and we are very confident that we'll be able to get there," Trudeau said.
"We're very, very hopeful that we're going to have good news soon," Trudeau said.
Last week, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland travelled to Washington, D.C. to meet with leading U.S. and Mexican trade officials in a new push to get the deal ratified. Her trip south came as U.S. lawmakers and Trump's administration appeared very close to concluding negotiations on adjustments to the new NAFTA that would see the Democrats in Congress agree to pass it.
A key sticking point for the Democrats in their talks with the U.S. administration has been ensuring that labour standards and workplace inspections would be enforced in Mexico and it's expected that either a side letter or an addendum of some form will be made to quell their concerns.
Trump and his White House have consistently indicated their desire to see USMCA passed by the end of 2019, leaving a limited runway left to see that come to fruition before lawmakers end their session ahead of the holidays and before the ongoing impeachment hearings and upcoming 2020 presidential race become all-encompassing.
In Canada, the bill to implement the new deal made it through second reading in the House of Commons before dying on the order paper when the 42nd Parliament ended with the election call in September.
Now, the Liberal minority is set to reintroduce the legislation in the early days of the new Parliament which kicks off on Thursday. With the House only scheduled to sit for just over a week before breaking until late January, it's yet to be seen how quickly the re-tabled legislation would be able to move, should it be brought forward by then.
Mexico has already ratified the deal domestically, but in order for it to come into force all three nations have to pass it in their respective legislative bodies.
In their first public sit-down in front of cameras since Trudeau was reelected with a minority government in October, the pair also spoke about NATO funding and the latest on the tensions with China over 5G and the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou and Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.