A ship sits docked at the Fraser Surrey Docks marine terminal on the Fraser River in this aerial photograph taken above Surrey, British Columbia, Canada. (Photographer: James MacDonald/Bloomberg)

U.S. and Canada Reach Trade Deal to Keep Nafta Trilateral

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. and Canada have agreed on a trade deal that would save the North American Free Trade Agreement as a trilateral bloc, according to three people familiar with the matter.

President Donald Trump has approved the developments and the expectation is that an agreement will be announced on Sunday night, according to the people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Canadian officials are working on the final touches.

U.S. and Canadian negotiators have been negotiating around the clock this weekend to make a Sunday midnight deadline that would allow the countries to sign the deal as the final act before Mexico’s outgoing President Enrique Pena Nieto leaves office at the end of November.

Reaching a pact with Canada allows the 24-year-old pact to remain trilateral and for the U.S. to check another box for its legislative process in the lead up to a congressional vote.

Trump has said he wants to rename the deal the U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement.

Smoother Path

Some people familiar with the talks credited Trump senior adviser Jared Kushner for helping smooth the path toward a deal. When it looked like negotiations had stalled or broken down due to friction between the U.S. and Canadian sides, Kushner kept talks going with aides close to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, including Gerald Butts and Katie Telford, three people said.

Lighthizer and Kushner were at the USTR office in Washington on Sunday afternoon negotiating final details by conference call with the Canadians in Ottawa. U.S. officials have been keeping Trump in the loop on every step since Friday, two people said.

U.S. lawmakers and business have urged the administration to keep Canada in the deal but the trilateral nature had been in jeopardy after Trump on Aug. 27 announced he reached a deal with Mexico that Canada could join if it’s willing to make concessions. They agreed to publish the text by the end of September.

The Canadian dollar was rallying on anticipation of a deal, strengthening 0.5 percent, while the Mexican peso gained abut 0.2 percent.

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