Donald Trump has blasted Canada over the slow pace of Nafta talks, claiming he was so unhappy that he had rejected Justin Trudeau’s request for a one-on-one meeting.
A spokeswoman for the Canadian prime minister denied that he had requested any such meeting, but Trump’s comments on Wednesday marked a new low in relations between the two leaders.
The attack cast further doubt on the future of the three-nation North American Free Trade Agreement, which underpins $1.2tn in annual trade between Canada, Mexico and the United States.
Trump, who wants major changes to the 1994 treaty, has already concluded a text with Mexico and is threatening to leave out Canada unless it signs up by this Sunday.
At a press conference in New York, Trump told reporters he had rebuffed a Trudeau request for a meeting “because his tariffs are too high and he doesn’t seem to want to move and I told him ‘forget about it’. And frankly we’re thinking about just taxing cars coming in from Canada.”
A Trudeau spokeswoman, Chantal Gagnon, said: “No meeting was requested. We don’t have any comment beyond that.”
The two sides are still far apart on major issues such as how to settle disputes and US demands for more access to Canada’s protected dairy market.
“We’re very unhappy with the negotiations and the negotiating style of Canada. We don’t like their representative very much,” Trump said in an apparent reference to the Canadian foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland.
Relations between the Canadian and US leaders have been chilly since June, when Trump left a G7 summit in Canada and then accused Trudeau of being dishonest and weak.
The US trade representative, Robert Lighthizer – Freeland’s counterpart at the talks – complained on Tuesday that Canada was not making enough concessions and warned that time was running out.
Earlier on Wednesday, Trudeau shrugged off US pressure to quickly agree to a deal and indicated it was possible the three member nations might fail to conclude a new pact.
“We will keep working as long as it takes to get to the right deal for Canada,” Trudeau told reporters at the United Nations. .