US, Canada making progress in NAFTA talks

Randal Sanchez
September 1, 2018

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland is in high-stakes meetings with her US counterpart this morning in Washington as part of an accelerated search for areas of compromise to overhaul the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland is in Washington for the latest round of negotiations, flanked by senior Canadian officials, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his point-man on US relations, Brian Clow.

He sees Canada under greater pressure to accept USA trade terms in light of Trump's renewed threat to slap punishing tariffs on vehicles and auto parts entering his country from Canada.

That means Canada could have as much as another 30 days to hammer out its part in the agreement, trade experts say.

One of the main sticking points for Canada in the revised deal is the USA effort to dump the Chapter 19 dispute resolution mechanism that hinders the United States from pursuing anti-dumping and anti-subsidy cases. What's the rollback in the other areas, and what does Mexico think they agreed to? Canada wants to keep the chapter strong, while Americans insist that it undermines US sovereignty and negotiating capabilities.

The U.S.is emphasizing the Friday deadline, but there's some wiggle room.

Freeland will be on the call, as will Canada's ambassador to the U.S., David MacNaughton, and Dominic LeBlanc, the federal minister responsible for intergovernmental affairs.

"It was indeed a point of tension, of public and notorious differences between Mexico and the United States, but I think that the decision we made not to allow a difference to define the rest of the relationship, that we could see beyond that difference, today is giving very obvious results", Mr Videgaray said in an interview with Bloomberg in Washington.

For now, Canadian negotiators are primarily focused on bilateral talks with the Americans. Both currencies gained against the USA dollar on Monday, but the peso weakened on Tuesday.

Cuomo and Nixon spar in debate
Nixon hit him back with the controversy surrounding his former aide Joe Percoco, who was found guilty of three counts of bribery. Two topics in particular got the two trading jabs. immigration and public transportation.

If a deal is not reached with Canada, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has said the Trump administration intends to proceed with a separate trade agreement with Mexico.

She added negotiations with Mexico would also be taking place Tuesday evening. Canada can sign on up until that ratification, which could be at the end of November.

Trudeau sidestepped a question about the new version of the sunset clause in the U.S. -Mexico deal. There are several steps that must be followed after that, meaning Congress would not actually vote on the deal until next year, after mid-term elections that are expected to usher in a raft of new members. "Because Canada has been very rough on our farmers", Trump said.

The senior official repeated that the new trade agreement is not only better than the existing NAFTA deal, "but also far better than TPP". US stocks edged to record highs for a third consecutive session.

That would pave the way for tariff-free access to the Canadian market by the much larger American dairy and poultry market.

But Canada is a dominant exporter of crude oil to the United States: It accounts for 47 percent of the barrels imported to the United States, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Mexico's Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said he expected to rejoin his U.S. and Canadian counterparts for trilateral talks later Thursday of Friday.

When a US president intends to sign a trade deal with another country, he has to notify Congress in 90 days, and then Congress must approve it.

However, legislators and former USA trade officials say the White House does not have the authority to replace NAFTA with a two-nation trade agreement, and must have the text of the treaty ready by September 30.

Other reports by

Discuss This Article

FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER