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Sunday 22 October 2017

Trump and Trudeau discuss Bombardier tariff row

The Canadian company has a big presence in Northern Ireland

U.S. President Donald Trump welcomes Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the South Lawn before their meeting about the NAFTA trade agreement at the White House in Washington, U.S. October 11, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump welcomes Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the South Lawn before their meeting about the NAFTA trade agreement at the White House in Washington, U.S. October 11, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Independent.ie Newdesk

President Donald Trump remained non-committal about the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) on Wednesday as he welcomed Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to the White House.

Mr Trudeau joined Mr Trump in the Oval Office at the start of a new round of talks over the agreement, which the US president has threatened to withdraw from if he cannot negotiate a better settlement with Canada and Mexico.

Mr Trump said: "We're negotiating a Nafta deal.

"It's time after all of these years and we'll see what happens. It's possible we won't be able to make a deal and it's possible that we will.

"We have to protect our workers and, in all fairness, the prime minister wants to protect Canada and his people also.

"So, we'll see what happens with Nafta. It has to be fair to both countries."

Mr Trudeau, in his brief remarks to reporters, spoke of the ties that bind the two neighbours and major trading partners.

"We have an incredibly close relationship. Two countries that are interwoven in our economies and our cultures and our peoples," Mr Trudeau said.

"We have a good partnership ... and that's why having an ongoing constructive relationship between the president and the prime minister is really important."

The trade negotiations this week in Washington have gotten off to a rocky start, with the US Chamber of Commerce warning the Trump administration might be sabotaging the talks with unrealistic proposals.

Mr Trudeau, making his second visit to the White House this year, also raised the Trump administration's recent decision to hit Canadian manufacturer Bombardier with punishing tariffs on its C Series airliner.

US-based Boeing alleges that Bombardier gets unfair subsidies from the Canadian and British governments.

Mr Trump, who made trade a key part of his 2016 presidential campaign, has repeatedly criticised Canada, alleging it unfairly blocks US dairy products and subsidises its softwood lumber industry.

Mr Trudeau said that it wasn't an easy conversation to have with Mr Trump.

Bombardier is contracted to supply up to 125 C-Series aircraft to Atlanta-based Delta Airlines in a deal underpinning many staff posts at its manufacturing plant in Belfast.

The UK Government has also been actively lobbying in the US for a compromise between Boeing and Bombardier amid growing concern about the potential implications for Bombardier's Northern Ireland operations.

Mr Trudeau is scheduled to visit Mexico on Thursday to hold additional discussions on Nafta.

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