Justin Trudeau to meet Donald Trump, Enrique Pena Nieto, amid tense NAFTA talks

As NAFTA talks grow more contentious, Justin Trudeau will head to Washington next week for a face-to-face meeting with Donald Trump. The prime minister will also head to Mexico City to meet with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.

Prime minister to visit Washington and Mexico City during 4-day trip next week

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will meet with U.S. President Donald Trump next week during a visit to Washington. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

As NAFTA talks grow more contentious, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is heading to Washington, D.C., and Mexico City for high-level meetings with his counterparts.

Next Tuesday, Trudeau will travel to the U.S. capital for two days, where his agenda includes a sit-down chat with U.S. President Donald Trump. He then departs for Mexico City for two days of bilateral meetings with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.

A government official speaking on background insisted NAFTA isn't the primary reason for the trip, but acknowledged the important trilateral trade deal will be discussed.

The official said the meeting with Trump was added to Trudeau's agenda after he had already agreed to be the keynote speaker at the 2017 Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit in Washington.

"The PM will be one of the few men in the room," according to Fortune Magazine's web site, which says "the summit aims to convene successful women in business, government, philanthropy, education and the arts."

Also speaking at the three-day summit will be General Motors CEO Mary Barra and Kellyanne Conway, counselor to Trump. 

Security and shared interests

According to a news release from the Prime Minister's Office, the meeting with Trump will be an opportunity to "discuss issues of importance to both countries, including international security and our vital trade and economic relationship."

Trudeau and Trump spoke by phone on Monday about security, in light of the violent attacks in both Las Vegas and Edmonton over the weekend. 

The leaders pledged continued co-operation on the separate investigations.

Trudeau may also use the face time with Trump to personally convey Canada's disappointment over the spat between Boeing and Bombardier. 

Last week, the U.S. Department of Commerce imposed duties of nearly 220 per cent on Bombardier CSeries planes, after Boeing complained about the Canadian aerospace giant receiving government subsidies.

Canada is strongly opposed to that decision, and has threatened to halt its plan to purchase Super Hornet fighter jets from Boeing in retaliation.

Grinding trade talks

Trudeau's trip coincides with the start of the fourth round of NAFTA talks, which also take place in Washington. 

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, has said progress is being made at the negotiating table, but acknowledged the U.S. has yet to present specifics on some of the key changes it would like to see included in the renegotiated deal.

For example, both Canada and Mexico are waiting for details about how the U.S. team would like rules of origin to change, or how it would like to alter the trade dispute resolution process.

While all three countries remain optimistic the deal can be renegotiated by the end of the year, trade experts suggest meeting that timeline is unlikely.


Katie Simpson is a foreign correspondent with CBC News based in Washington. Prior to joining the team in D.C. she spent six years covering Parliament Hill in Ottawa and nearly a decade covering local and provincial issues in Toronto.