Wall 'greatly concerned' by possibility that United States could withdraw from NAFTA

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The Canadian dollar steadied against the greenback on Thursday after hitting a almost two-week low earlier in the session as investors weighed chances of a Bank of Canada interest rate hike next week and anxious about NAFTA.

Mexico has long said it wouldn't be paying for a border wall with the U.S. On Thursday, officials used some cheeky language on President Donald Trump's favorite medium to reiterate their message.

Mexico has made clear it will never pay for President Donald Trump's planned southern border wall, the country's economy minister said today, after the U.S. leader again insisted he would make Mexico pay for the barrier.

Freeland insisted that the WTO challenge is strictly in response to the "unfair and unjustified" duties imposed by the US on imports of Canadian softwood lumber, and is "on a quite separate track from the NAFTA negotiations".

Canada and Mexico oppose US demands to establish rules of origin for NAFTA goods that would set minimum levels of USA 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.

Canadian government officials said they expect Trump to give a six-month notice of withdrawal, although it's not clear if the president can officially scuttle the agreement without the approval of Congress. "I understand that makes it a little bit hard for them". The Detroit automaker has 14 manufacturing facilities in Mexico, including one that builds large pickup trucks, among the automaker's most profitable vehicles.

The U.S. content requirement would decimate the Canadian vehicle industry, according to Jerry Dias, president of the Unifor trade union.

Canadian government sources told Reuters on Wednesday they were increasingly convinced the United States plans to announce it intends to pull out of NAFTA, sending markets lower.

That means Mexico will essentially have paid for the wall, he said.

Such an announcement by Trump would trigger a six-month countdown to the USA exit from NAFTA. "Most likely the Canadians are reacting to the President's negotiating posture".

Under the current trade pact, Mexican trucks can deliver goods in the United States if they meet the same safety regulations as USA drivers and US drivers can deliver goods in Mexico. The talks are scheduled to wrap up by the end of March.

Champagne and Freeland spoke to reporters before the beginning of a two-day Cabinet retreat in London, Ontario.

"We've been talking with Canadian stakeholders and we have some new ideas that we look forward to talking with our USA and Mexican counterparts about in Montreal".

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