Chrystia Freeland, Canada's FM, calls NAFTA talks 'constructive' but still no deal

Devin Lawrence
September 7, 2018

"We are concerned that excluding Canada from a final agreement will limit our export opportunities and hurt the USA economy", said Gary Shapiro, the head of the Consumer Technology Association, in a statement.

But despite the public optimism, negotiators face a tough task ahead.

Despite Trump's tough talk, that U.S. negotiators have made a decision to keep negotiating is due primarily to the fact that Congress has underlined that any revised deal must include both Canada and Mexico, The NYT noted.

The Trump Administration notified Congress Friday of its intent to reach a new NAFTA deal with or without Canada.

"It's not going to be the deal-breaker", he said.

He said on Twitter that "there is no political necessity to keep Canada in the new NAFTA deal".

Now, that offer still might not be enough with Canada but I think the USA knows where the red lines are so there must be some convergence. Canada is the major export destination for 36 U.S. states, and many of Trump's political supporters have asked that he "do no harm" to the deal, to begin with.

He called NAFTA "a very stupid deal".

"The atmosphere continues to be constructive and positive".

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Another key issue is US tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, though it's unclear whether relief from those will be included. If we don't make a fair deal for the USA after decades of abuse, Canada will be out", he tweeted .

With a pledge to resume talks next week, Freeland spoke of progress, of optimism and of her determination to get a deal that's good for Canadians - a remarkable show of restraint on a day that began with another blast of now-familiar Trump bombast that landed like an anvil on the negotiating table. Canada was frozen out of the bilateral talks between the two other NAFTA partners. She didn't elaborate, and the White House didn't respond to questions about Trump's trade strategy toward Canada and his lack of support in Congress. If the Trump administration meets congressional objectives for a trade deal they can fast-track a new NAFTA through Congress without lawmaker changes.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Trudeau said Canada will not sign onto a deal that does not include a dispute resolution mechanism and exemptions for cultural industries. "And we know we have a president who doesn't always follow the rules as they're laid out", Trudeau said. Without Canada, Republican lawmakers would be likely to scuttle any new NAFTA pact, The NYT report said. If the AFL-CIO's opposition to a NAFTA without Canada holds, it would leave Trump facing opposition by bosses, farmers, workers and politicians - every major constituency in American trade politics.

"It is inconceivable to Canadians that an American network might buy Canadian media affiliates, whether it's newspapers or TV stations or TV networks", he said. "That would not be good for Canada, it would not be good for our identity, it would not be good for our sovereignty". Free Trade Agreement signed in 1987.

"Our economies are intertwined in Vermont and across the U.S. There would be grave concerns on both sides of the aisle about proceeding with an incomplete agreement", the senator wrote.

In the USA, businesses, farmers, unions and Congress insistent that there must be a three-nation agreement.

The president claimed those comments to Bloomberg News were meant to be off the record, but on Saturday tweeted that he would end NAFTA if Canada did not agree to his terms.

USA officials did not comment after Wednesday's meeting, which came after Trump said he was willing to dump Canada from the US$1.2 trillion three-country trade pact after he reached agreement with Mexico last week.

"The president needs to take a look at the Constitution - it gives Congress authority over trade". As the process grinds on, some in Washington insist Trump can not pull out of NAFTA without the approval of Congress. "The president can not pull America out of NAFTA without Congress's permission", Wyden said.

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