Mexican President Says He's 'Optimistic' About NAFTA Deal

Canada's Foreign Minister Freeland takes part in a news conference with U.S. Secretary of State Tillerson on Parliament Hill in Ottawa

But ahead of a cabinet retreat in London, Ontario, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wouldn't comment on the state of re-negotiations.

Canada is preparing new talks related to autos at the Montreal negotiations, two government officials said, speaking on condition they not be identified.

The filing was made just as a sixth round of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) talks are set to resume January 23 in Montreal.

But while the government is hoping for the best from negotiations to renew the North American Free Trade Agreement, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland reiterated Thursday that it's also prepared for the worst: a USA withdrawal from the continental trade pact.

"Canada is prepared for every eventuality, and that is a whole of government preparation".

Mexico will leave the NAFTA negotiating table if U.S. President Donald Trump decides to trigger a 6-month process to withdraw from the trade pact, three Mexican sources with knowledge of the talks told Reuters on Wednesday.

International Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said Canada will remain solution-oriented and constructive in its trade talks, but said the WTO complaint sends a clear message of "firmness" in Canada's approach.

She said the government takes the its word, and is treating the threat seriously.

"If it becomes too complicated, too bureaucratic, too costly that you can't get low-priced, high-labor products into this region - then all of a sudden we have damaged the whole NAFTA region", Chief Executive Officer Don Walker said.

As Canada prepares for a possible USA pullout from NAFTA, it will continue an aggressive outreach plan that includes meetings with state governors and lawmakers in Washington. Still, she said it was "absolutely possible to have a positive outcome" in Montreal if all three sides showed good will.

But in an interview with the Wall Street Journal published Thursday, Trump said he would be "a little bit flexible" on the timeframe for when a NAFTA deal had to be struck because of the impending Mexican presidential election.

"When it comes to the more unconventional USA proposals, we have been doing some creative thinking, we've been talking with Canadian stakeholders and we have some new ideas that we look forward to talking with our USA and Mexican counterparts about in Montreal".

Canada has so far largely shunned confrontation with Washington, stressing instead the merits of NAFTA and free trade as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes efforts to forge closer ties with Trump. Such a notice, which would be given under Article 2205, isn't binding, meaning it could still be issued and NAFTA still survive.

"I know what we are trying to achieve is improvement in NAFTA".

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