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2 business groups want Canada to stay in NAFTA

Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland speaks to the media as she arrives for trade talks at the Office of the United States Trade Representative, Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018, in Washington. | AP Photo

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Business Roundtable and the Business Council of Canada are urging trade negotiators to agree to a version of NAFTA that continues to include the United States, Canada and Mexico.

On Monday, the United States and Mexico cut a deal on a revamped regional pact that excludes Canada. Canadian negotiators are in Washington for talks that are aimed at reinstating Canada in a new version of the 24-year-old NAFTA.

“Forfeiting this three-nation partnership would destabilize North American supply chains, jeopardize jobs and undermine economic growth,” the two business groups said in a statement.

Canada’s top trade negotiator says she’s “encouraged” by urgent discussions that are intended to overhaul NAFTA.

Leaving a morning session with U.S. Trade Rep. Robert Lighthizer, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland tells reporters, “We continue to be encouraged by the constructive atmosphere that I think both countries are bringing to the table.”

On Monday, the United States and Mexico reached an agreement to replace NAFTA, a 24-year-old pact involving those two countries and Canada. But the new deal excluded Canada.

Freeland hurried to Washington to try to repair the damage. She’s seeking to forge a three-country deal by Friday, starting a 90-day countdown that would let Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto sign the pact before leaving office Dec. 1.

“We’re working very intensively,” Freeland says.