Freeland said she would meet with Lighthizer when negotiators found issues that needed to be elevated to the ministerial level.
"We're just going to stay working constructively to get to that win, win, win that we know is there".
So far, Canada has been unable to obtain a guarantee from the United States that Canadians would not be hit with punitive US auto tariffs if Ottawa agrees to a new NAFTA deal with Washington.
In return for concessions on dairy, Canada could request USA concessions on the so-called Chapter 19 dispute resolution mechanism that allows Canada to combat us anti-dumping duties that Ottawa regards as unjustified.
Freeland said that discussions between U.S. and Canadian negotiating teams over the weekend were "constructive and productive", so she flew in for what may be the only a day of talks with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. "And if we don't sign the deal, it's because no deal is actually better than a bad deal for Canada".
President Donald Trump has struck a trade deal with Mexico and threatened to push ahead without Canada, a move that would kill NAFTA, which covers $1.2 trillion in trade between the three countries, and further spook financial markets. Under U.S. trade negotiating laws, a text for that agreement is due by October 1.
No word yet on when she might return to Washington to continue NAFTA talks.
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"Maybe that helps us all put into perspective the negotiations that we're having - and also put into a little bit of historical perspective the importance and the significance of the relationship between Canada and the United States", she said of the anniversary.
Earlier in the day, she noted that Tuesday was the 17th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks to drive home a point about the long-standing relationship between the two countries.
Former federal Canadian trade official Matthew Kronby said the reported American demands indicate to him that the White House doesn't really want to strike a deal with Canada.
"I think we understand there are certain issues on which we will need to compromise", one of the sources said when asked about increased dairy access for the USA industry.
Canada, he added, has already opened up its dairy market via concessions included in the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) agreement with the Asia Pacific and the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) with the European Union. However, no specifics on the progress made towards reaching an agreement have been announced. After more than a year of talks, Canada and the United States are still trying to resolve differences over the North American Free Trade Agreement, which also includes Mexico.
The hope is for a trilateral agreement in principle that Congress can approve before Mexico's new president takes office on December 1.