OTTAWA — Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland is headed to Washington for a two-day visit beginning Tuesday as talks to modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement hang in the balance.
Freeland has been a fixture in the U.S. capital in recent weeks, taking part in high-level NAFTA negotiations with U.S. trade czar Robert Lighthizer and Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo.
It wasn’t immediately clear if those talks are the main purpose of her visit, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been talking by phone with U.S. President Donald Trump and Mexico’s Enrique Pena Nieto in recent days despite dwindling hope of reaching a deal.
Time is of the essence: Canada’s latest reprieve from potentially crippling U.S. tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum expires June 1, and there are fears they could go into effect without a NAFTA deal in place.
The three countries have been working around the clock in hopes of getting a deal in time for the current iteration of the U.S. Congress, and ahead of what’s expected to be a consequential election in Mexico July 1.
The Canadian Press