NAFTA becomes latest deal to fall victim to Trump

Virginia Carson
September 1, 2018

A deal on an overhaul of the North American Free Trade Agreement appeared within reach as Canada and the United States opened their third day of negotiations Thursday aimed at getting the pact done by the end of the week.

"I think Canada very much wants to make the deal", he said, while again raising the possibility of a separate, bilateral deal with Mexico.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, emerging Wednesday evening from her second meeting of the day with her USA counterpart, said officials would be working late into the night - and possibly all night - on potential "landing zones" where both parties can agree.

Chrystia Freeland, Canada's top NAFTA negotiator, said the talks between Mexico and the US weren't exclusionary, but necessary to make progress.

Monday's drama forced Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland to abandon her plans for a three-country European mission, and fly to Washington.

"We're hearing that there's a lot of progress being made and that it's possible that. we'll be able to see something sometime soon", Kevin Hassett, Chairman of the White House Council of Economics Advisers, told Fox Business Network on Wednesday.

And Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador called for a three-way trade deal, saying "it's important that Canada also be included".

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She said significant concessions from Mexico in the areas of labor and rules of origin on cars "really paved the way for what Canada believes will be a good week". Under U.S. law, Trump must wait 90 days before signing the pact.

While Trump called NAFTA "the worst deal ever" during his presidential campaign and after taking office, he also blamed the agreement for the increase in the U.S.' trade deficit.

"The sooner we can have these reassurances, the better position we are as MI agriculture, especially as we move into our harvest season", Kran said.

"We need to get a deal, this is incredibly important for our economy, which is probably the most export-dependent in the entire country, and we've been concerned about a pattern we've been seeing - moving backward on market access, moving backward on trade access, not moving forward", he said, citing examples of Saskatchewan's worldwide market access shrinking.

Trump has repeatedly complained about Canada's high tariffs on imported dairy.

"Ultimately, we've got huge issues that are still to be resolved", said Jerry Dias, head of Canada's influential Unifor labour union. But Canada has now joined the talks, and USA and Canadian officials will be trying to bridge their differences this morning in Washington.

One of the main sticking points for Canada in the revised deal is the US effort to dump the Chapter 19 dispute resolution mechanism that hinders the United States from pursuing anti-dumping and anti-subsidy cases.

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"They gave on the sunset clause, which continues to be a red line for Canada and Mexico", Ambrose said.

Top members of Canada's negotiating team made an abrupt return Tuesday to NAFTA talks in Washington, where they face stiff pressure from Trump to join the deal his administration struck earlier in the week with Mexico.

But Washington backed away from a strenuously-opposed provision to require the three nations to renegotiate the trade pact after five years.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused the Trump administration Wednesday of setting its sights on dismantling Canada's supply management system.

However, if Trump wants to include Canada into the U.S. -Mexico trade deal, he has until Friday to do so. -Canada issues, said it would be hard for Freeland to win concessions from Lighthizer on these issues.

"The wall will be paid for very easily by Mexico", said Trump.

The U.S.is seeking more market access for its milk products to the protected Canadian market. Instead, the agreement with Mexico extends NAFTA for 16 years but with a review every six years.

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