U.S. President Donald Trump urged for a quick conclusion to a renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement during a phone call Monday with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The White House said Trump “underscored the importance” of quickly reaching a deal, while Trudeau’s office said the two spoke of the “possibility of bringing the negotiations to a prompt conclusion.”
The talks have come under increased pressure to quickly produce a deal after U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan said this week he would need to be notified of a new agreement by May 17 to give the current Congress a chance to pass it this year.
Canada, the United States and Mexico are renegotiating their 24-year-old free trade pact in a process triggered by the Trump administration. Trump has been highly critical of the 1994 deal, blaming it for the loss of millions of manufacturing jobs that hurt the U.S. economy.
He has repeatedly threatened to leave the pact if a satisfactory updated agreement is not reached.
U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said on Monday that none of the contentious issues the three countries have been discussing appear to have been resolved. Ross, who is not directly involved in the NAFTA talks, told reporters in Washington Monday that the big issues are still a “work in progress.”
Last week, the latest round of NAFTA talks ended in Washington without any major breakthroughs on how to renegotiate the deal. Those talks were the first to involve all three of the top officials in the negotiations — U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo.