Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that intense negotiations between Canada, the U.S., and Mexico designed to fix NAFTA fell apart after Vice President Mike Pence issued an ultimatum the other countries couldn’t accept.
According to The Washington Post, Trudeau said he was prepared to travel to Washington this week to meet with U.S. officials and work out a deal on a new trade agreement in response to President Donald Trump’s threat of tariffs.
But the meeting fell through when Pence told Trudeau in a phone call that it would only take place if agreements were made in advance on a “sunset” clause included in a NAFTA rework, which would force the deal to expire after five years.
“I had to highlight that there was no possibility of any Canadian prime minister signing a NAFTA deal that included a five-year sunset clause, and obviously the visit didn’t happen,” Trudeau said on Thursday.
The failed negotiations led the Trump administration to announce Thursday that it would impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, Mexico, and the European Union.
Soon after, Trudeau announced retaliatory tariffs on U.S. steel, aluminum, and other goods, calling the Trump administration’s tariffs “totally unacceptable.”
Trump responded to the Canadian prime minister’s criticism on Friday, arguing that Canada has been unfair on U.S. agriculture and pushing the country to “take down their trade barriers!”
Canada has treated our Agricultural business and Farmers very poorly for a very long period of time. Highly restrictive on Trade! They must open their markets and take down their trade barriers! They report a really high surplus on trade with us. Do Timber & Lumber in U.S.?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 1, 2018
Mexico has also announced retaliatory tariffs in response to the White House decision, and the EU said it will likely make a similar announcement this month.