Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump discussed accelerating NAFTA talks during a bilateral meeting at the G7 summit of Friday.
“The prime minister and the president had a very positive, productive meeting and it lasted longer than originally scheduled,” a senior government official, speaking on background, told reporters assembled at the G7 summit Friday.
“They did discuss NAFTA at length and they discussed the future of NAFTA, and I would say they also talked about accelerating the talks.”
The reportedly positive tone of the leaders’ one-on-one meeting stood in stark contrast to a week of increasingly testy public statements by Trump, following Canada’s announcement last week that it would impose $16.6 billion in tariffs against U.S. products on July 1 in retaliation for U.S. tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum.
But two sources with direct knowledge of the situation told CBC News that Canada has heard this kind of positive rhetoric from Trump before — without seeing results at the NAFTA negotiating table.
One source described Friday’s meeting as a “frank” airing of grievances in a “non-emotional setting,” adding that Trump appeared surprised that Canada had responded so vehemently to the U.S. tariffs.
Before departing Washington for the leaders’ summit Friday, Trump took aim at Trudeau and at Canada’s supply management system for dairy products, which includes high tariffs on U.S. imports, in comments to U.S. reporters and in a series of tweets.
But in brief remarks to reporters before their bilateral meeting Friday afternoon, Trump seemed to lighten the mood, cracking a joke about Canada dropping all tariffs and claiming that relations between the two countries were perhaps better than they had ever been.