U.S. President Donald Trump says he rejected a request for a one-on-one NAFTA meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this week because Canada’s tariffs are too high and the country’s trade negotiators have refused to budge.
Trump made the comments late Wednesday as part of a free-wheeling news conference at the end of the United Nations General Assembly.
“Yeah, I did,” Trump said when asked whether he rejected a meeting with Trudeau on the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
“His tariffs are too high and he doesn’t seem to want to move. And I’ve told him, forget about it.”
In his response, Trump also complained about Canada’s negotiators and appeared to make a specific reference to Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland — who has been Trudeau’s NAFTA point person since talks began 13 months ago.
“We’re very unhappy with the negotiations and the negotiating style of Canada — we don’t like their representative very much,” Trump said.
Shortly after Trump’s news conference, the Prime Minister’s Office disputed the president’s statement — insisting it did not request a meeting. Trudeau’s office declined further comment.
Trump reiterated his threat to slap Canadian auto imports to the U.S. with tariffs, which experts say would devastate industries in both countries.
“And, frankly, we’re thinking about just taxing cars coming in from Canada,” he said. “That’s the motherlode, that’s the big one.”
The Canadian Press