WASHINGTON -- Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland on Friday expressed confidence that Canada could reach agreement with the United States on a renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement if there was "good will and flexibility on all sides."
"We know that a win-win-win agreement is within reach," Freeland told reporters after days-long talks wrapped up without a deal. "With goodwill and flexibility on all sides, I know we can get there."
Talks between Canada and the United States ended Friday and were set to resume on Wednesday.
U.S. President Donald Trump told Congress that he plans to sign a trade deal with Mexico in 90 days, which Canada could join "if it is willing," Trump's top trade official said late Friday afternoon.
In a statement, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said U.S. officials would resume talks with their Canadian counterparts next Wednesday with the aim of getting a deal all three nations could sign.
This week's round of U.S.-Canada negotiations had generated hopeful signals from both camps that a deal could be struck by the end of the week -- but difficult discussions about dairy and dispute settlement remained.
Flavio Volpe, president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers Association, said he believes progress has been made between the U.S. and Canada and that a deal is possible in the coming days.
"I think a lot of us were expecting the real possibility of getting it done today. I’m not dismayed by the fact that we’re moving on to next week," he said. "I'm eager to see NAFTA 2.0 pass."
Canadian and American negotiators showed few signs of budging on their most stubborn positions on the North American Free Trade Agreement on Friday, Trump's deadline for a deal.
A statement from the U.S. trade representative's office said Canada had made no compromises to the American side on the thorny issue of dairy-market access: "There have been no concessions by Canada on agriculture,'' it read.
Similarly, Canadian officials told The Canadian Press early on Friday that expectations a NAFTA deal is imminent were exaggerated and premature.
Earlier, a stoic Freeland maintained her diplomatic countenance, saying only that both the Canadian negotiating team and USTR officials were working hard to reach an agreement.
"We're not there yet,'' she cautioned.
News of off-the-record comments Trump made to Bloomberg News broke as negotiations began Friday morning. According to a Toronto Star report, Trump said a final NAFTA deal would be "totally on our terms."
Trump, according to the report, said he frequently reminds Canada that if necessary he will slap painful tariffs on auto imports. Such a move, experts warn, would inflict heavy damage on the countries' deeply integrated auto sector.
"Off the record, Canada's working their ass off. And every time we have a problem with a point, I just put up a picture of a Chevrolet Impala,'' Trump said, according to the article.
The Impala is manufactured at the General Motors plant in Oshawa, Ont.
Asked by a reporter how Canada could negotiate with Trump in light of the comments, Freeland said the American negotiating team has acted in good faith.
"My negotiating counterparty is Ambassador Lighthizer,'' she said. "He has brought good faith and good will to the table.''
Volpe said Trump's comments did not derail U.S.-Canada talks.
"I spoke to negotiators today in the room, and everybody knows who the president is and how he operates," Volpe said. "They addressed it in the room, but it did not move the negotiations off course."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, at an event Friday in Oshawa, where he announced a government investment towards the creation of new automotive jobs, said Canada would remain "unequivocal" about standing up for Canadian interests.
"I think people have noticed that our government's approach is always to stay constructive, positive, to engage on the substance of issues and to demonstrate that we understand that the path forward is one of making sure that there's win-win-win on all sides,'' Trudeau said.
Trump has repeatedly criticized Canada's dairy industry and has used the threat of tariffs on Canada's auto production to push for concessions. But Canada's dairy industry is adamant that it won't stand for the government allowing the U.S. any more market access, saying it has compromised enough on past trade deals with the European Union and Pacific Rim countries.
Another lingering sticking point is Chapter 19, set up to resolve disputes among the three countries and industry around how to implement NAFTA rules. The U.S. wants it out of the deal, but Canada says it must be included.
Reuters, The Canadian Press and Automotive News Canada staff contributed to this report.