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Trade accords find favour with Trump, Trudeau optimistic

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Amid crucial talks to revamp a continental trade pact, US President Donald Trump (right) opened the door Thursday to joining the Trans Pacific Partnership, while Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau continued to hold out for a NAFTA deal with the US and Mexico.

[MONTREAL] Amid crucial talks to revamp a continental trade pact, US President Donald Trump opened the door Thursday to joining the Trans Pacific Partnership, while Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau continued to hold out for a Nafta deal with the US and Mexico.

In an interview with CNBC to be broadcast in full on Friday, Mr Trump suggested he was open to the United States joining the TPP, which he had rejected only a year ago.

"I would do TPP if we were able to make a substantially better deal," he said. "The deal was terrible, the way it was structured was terrible. If we did a substantially better deal, I would be open to TPP."

The American president, however, was equivocal about the chances that negotiations underway in Montreal would lead to a deal on the North American Free Trade Agreement.

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"I think we have a good chance but we'll see what happens," he said.

Soon after he took office, Mr Trump announced the United States was pulling out of the pact agreed in 2015 by a dozen nations that accounted for 40 per cent of the global economy.

Canada, meanwhile, announced on Tuesday that it would sign on to the resurrected TPP along with 10 other Asia-Pacific countries.

Mr Trudeau had initially snubbed the proposed trade deal last year, acting as the main holdout in negotiations after Mr Trump decided to go it alone under his "America First" policy.

But with Mr Trump also threatening to pull his country out of Nafta unless it was overhauled, voices calling for Canada to diversify its key trade relationships prevailed.

"Canada is a country that understands just how important international trade is," Mr Trudeau said at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

"We have negotiated successfully first the agreement with Europe, we're now working very hard on Nafta, and we are very pleased to have been able to sign the new version of the TPP," he said.

On Nafta, Mr Trudeau added: "Our focus has consistently been on creating a deal that is good for Canada and for the United States and for Mexico and for the citizens and workers of all three countries.

"We know that that is eminently possible."

AFP

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