Freeland to meet Lighthizer in Washington Tuesday

Devin Lawrence
September 14, 2018

Freeland, who is Canada's lead negotiator, was sidelined from the talks for more than two months, and will be under pressure to accept the terms the United States and Mexico worked out.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, from US President Donald Trump, has unanimous domestic support for now but to keep a firm hold on power must wring concessions from an unwilling powerful dairy lobby in order to mollify Washington.

"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. It also wants significant new access to Canada's sheltered dairy industry and seeks the relaxing of foreign ownership restrictions on Canadian media companies.

The talks are focused on USA demands to scrap the so-called Chapter-19 dispute resolution mechanism in NAFTA, overturn some of Canada's current "carve-out" of cultural industries from free-trade rules and loosen protections under the dairy sector's supply management system.

Austen, asked whether Freeland might return to Washington later in the week, said no decisions had been taken.

Speculation has been building in recent weeks that the Trump administration is in the midst of a pivot from picking trade fights with allies to focusing on confronting China.

Lighthizer spent Monday in Brussels for trade discussions with the European Union - preliminary talks that are scheduled to resume later this fall.

"An early harvest in the area of technical barriers to trade" could come as soon as November, the office said, according to the Financial Times.

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Daniel Ujczo, a USA trade lawyer who has worked for both the Canadian and the US governments, rejects the notion that Canada and the United States are at a stalemate.

The announcement last month that the US and Mexico had reached an agreement to replace NAFTA without Canada surprised trade experts around the globe.

"We will be travelling to Washington ... to continue the NAFTA negotiations", Ms. Freeland told reporters at the Women in the World event in Toronto, without commenting further on the state of the trade talks.

Also unresolved are protections to Canada's cultural sector and the Chapter 19 dispute resolution mechanism. "And if we don't sign the deal, it's because no deal is actually better than a bad deal for Canada".

What's at stake is huge for both the USA and Canada.

Freeland said she spoke with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer over the weekend after their talks ended on Friday, and their teams have had "a lot of contact" since then.

Experts note that the desire to make a trade deal happen is influenced by upcoming political events, including the US midterm elections in November, a transition of presidential power in Mexico in December and next year's Canadian election. "He's railed against this thing (NAFTA) and they've been at the negotiating table for now over a year".

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