Vice President Mike Pence called Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday to demand Canada accept a five-year sunset clause in the North American Free Trade Agreement as a precondition for Trudeau to meet with President Trump in Washington, DC to work out the final contours of a NAFTA deal, Trudeau told reporters on Thursday.
[Brett Fortnam | May 31, 2108 | Inside US Trade]
Trudeau said he believed the NAFTA negotiations had reached a point where a “final dealmaking moment” could wrap up the talks and said last week he offered to meet with Trump, accompanied by Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, to finish the negotiations. Pence responded on Tuesday by telling the Canadian prime minister that he would have to accept a five-year sunset clause in NAFTA before a meeting could be set.
“There was an offer I made directly to the president last week to go down to Washington personally with Chrystia and sit down around a table with the president to work out the final details of NAFTA because there was the broad lines of a decent win-win-win deal on the table that I thought required that final dealmaking moment,” Trudeau said at a press conference on Thursday. “I got a call from Vice President Pence on Tuesday in which it was impressed upon me that there was a precondition to us being able to get together: that Canada accept a sunset clause for NAFTA. 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.”