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Canada welcomes Trump talk of possible NAFTA deadline extension

Reuters  |  LONDON, Ontario 

By David and Andrea Hopkins

LONDON, Ontario (Reuters) - on Friday welcomed U.S. Donald Trump's suggestion that talks to modernize could be extended beyond the end-March deadline, a move which might help break a deadlock at the negotiations.

Trump - who has long threatened to walk away from the 1994 North American Free Agreement unless major changes are made - told on Thursday that "a lot of things are hard to negotiate" ahead of a Mexican in July.

"I thought that was a sensible suggestion from the I think all of us are mindful of the Mexican elections," told reporters on the sidelines of a Cabinet retreat.

She made her remarks amid signs that and might be prepared to reverse their steadfast opposition to several U.S. hard line demands for changes to

Markets are nervous about the prospects of disruption to the highly integrated North American economy. The Canadian and Mexican currencies fell on Wednesday after cited Canadian sources as saying they were increasingly convinced Trump would announce plans for a withdrawal.

later told reporters that he was optimistic the three nations would be able to agree on improvements to while reiterating Canada's stance that "we will not accept just any deal".

In his remarks on Thursday, Trump repeated he was ready to announce a U.S. withdrawal unless major changes are made but said he was "leaving it a little bit flexible" until after the Mexican election.

"We have always felt that imposing artificial deadlines was not necessary from the Canadian standpoint ... I thought that was a constructive proposal from the president," said

A Canadian source familiar with the talks said officials had been talking informally for weeks about the possibility of suspending the process this year but stressed no decisions had been made.

and oppose U.S. demands to establish rules of origin for goods that would set minimum levels of U.S. content for autos, a sunset clause that would terminate the deal if it is not renegotiated every five years and ending the so-called Chapter 19 dispute mechanism.

said on Thursday that had come up with some creative ideas in a bid to unblock the talks.

Sources said some of the Canadian proposals related to autos content, an area where has recently indicated there might be room for compromise.

(Writing by David Ljunggren; Editing by and Chizu Nomiyama)

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sat, January 13 2018. 02:22 IST