Canada still enjoys old NAFTA benefits as new deal awaits ratification: Freeland

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says Canada has kept its privileged access to the U.S. market even as the new North American trade deal hangs in the balance.

She says that was Canada's core goal all along as it sat down with the United States and Mexico to renegotiate NAFTA in August 2017.

The leaders of all three countries signed the deal last fall but its formal ratification remains uncertain amid political jockeying in and between the U.S. and Mexico.

Freeland is hinting the Canadian government isn't worried about the way forward, saying Canadians can continue to enjoy the benefits of the existing 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement, which remains in place.

Mexican lawmakers recently told The Canadian Press they're OK with the status quo if the new trade pact can't be ratified.

Freeland reiterated past concerns that U.S. tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum are ``absurd'' and ``illegal'' but she stopped short of saying that lifting them would be a precondition to the government ratifying the new continental trade deal.