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Canada, U.S. exchange barbs over NAFTA talks as stresses rise

15 Comments

Canada and the United States exchanged barbs on Tuesday over sluggish negotiations to update NAFTA, reflecting mounting tensions over trade talks that appear unlikely to conclude on schedule.

The talks have effectively stalled as Canada and Mexico seek to address wide-ranging U.S. demands for changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement. The early March deadline for wrapping up the talks has been extended to at least early April, officials said. But participants have said privately it could take months longer than that.

Steve Verheul, Canada's chief negotiator, told an Ottawa audience that the United States aimed to weaken Canada and Mexico rather than ensure that the $1.2 trillion trilateral trade pact benefited all three members.

A few minutes earlier, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer pointedly said in Washington that talks with Mexico over NAFTA were going well. He made no mention of Canada.

U.S. President Donald Trump frequently threatens to walk away from NAFTA unless big changes are made. He blames the pact for U.S. manufacturing job losses and his remarks about quitting have unsettled financial markets.

Verheul said the talks had achieved little progress on major issues so far and characterized U.S. negotiators as inflexible. His comments were easily the gloomiest public remarks about the talks yet by a Canadian official.

"The U.S. approach is to focus on the U.S. perspective only, rather than a North American perspective. So they are looking to strengthen the U.S. and by doing that weaken Canada and Mexico within the North American economy," Verheul told a conference organized by the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.

Canada has made a number of what it calls creative proposals to address the U.S. insistence that the North American content of autos be raised. Washington also wants a clause that would allow any NAFTA member to pull out after five years.

Verheul said a U.S. demand that would slash the amount of government procurement contracts for Canadian and Mexican firms"is the worst offer ever made by the U.S. in any trade negotiation".

Mexico has said the autos rule of origin would have to be toughened, but gave no details.

Verheul declined to directly address Lighthizer's comment, telling reporters Canada would not walk away.

"We have no choice but to continue to ... impress on the U.S. that this cannot be a winner-takes-all agreement," he said.

"It's going to take a lot more time at the negotiating table to try to grind through these issues."

Last week, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada "might very well be better off" not signing up to an updated version of the NAFTA trade pact rather than accepting a bad deal.

© (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2018.

©2018 GPlusMedia Inc.

15 Comments
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MAGMA by isolating the US.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Stay the course, Mr. President. NAFTA was a disaster when former president Clinton (whom I supported) implemented. Do not back down one inch or centimeter.

-10 ( +3 / -13 )

Who needs who more? er....

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Stay the course, Mr. President. NAFTA was a disaster

*In the years since NAFTA, U.S. trade with its North American neighbors has more than tripled, growing more rapidly than U.S. trade with the rest of the world. *

Such a disaster.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

You are partially correct (no sarcasm). More cars and other goods were purchased in the US as a result of NAFTA but they were produced in Mexico which hurt the manufacturing sector which is why many feel NAFTA is considered a disaster.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

The USA needs isolating by the Americas if Verheul is correct. Maybe then, a bit of fair play might emerge.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

You are partially correct (no sarcasm). More cars and other goods were purchased in the US as a result of NAFTA but they were produced in Mexico which hurt the manufacturing sector which is why many feel NAFTA is considered a disaster.

Why has the manufacturing sector in the US been decimated? Because Americans require far higher wages than their Mexican or Chinese counterparts.

I do appreciate you acknowledging that I posted a fact.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Steve Verheul, Canada's chief negotiator, told an Ottawa audience that the United States aimed to weaken Canada and Mexico rather than ensure that the $1.2 trillion trilateral trade pact benefited all three members.

He's right.

A few minutes earlier, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer pointedly said in Washington that talks with Mexico over NAFTA were going well. He made no mention of Canada.

I have lost so much respect for Mexico. After they were branded rapists and what have you, and told that there would be a wall built to keep them out, they STILL want to cave into Trump's demands?? Shame on you.

Washington also wants a clause that would allow any NAFTA member to pull out after five years.

That means the US is not serious about keeping NAFTA. Better to just shelve it now.

Last week, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada "might very well be better off" not signing up to an updated version of the NAFTA trade pact rather than accepting a bad deal.

Stay the course PM Trudeau.

Just as the EU is trying to slap the UK around we see the EXACT same thing here with the US trying to bully Canada.

UK and Canada- Just join the Trans Tasman Agreement with OZ and NZ- turning it into a CANZUK bloc that will punch well above its weight. Neither the US nor the EU will be able to continue their shameful bullying practices. This is why we need Canzuk so much. Canada and the UK are in a really bad fix.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

@Aly. I agree with 99% of what you post but I think you are incorrect about you assertion that the US is trying to weaken Canada and Mexico. Rather the US is trying to protect its workers—-which is every country’s right and responsibility. NAFTA hurt America far more than it helped.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Best move by Trump is to walk away from this for a few years, then let them come back begging on their hands and knees for a new deal....I think that will be his strategy.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Trump's strategy is to appease nationalistic interests and maintain his 34% voting base, which will allow corporations and contributors (and his own self interests) to rape the country.

Negotiations require thought and knowledge, two things Trump cannot offer.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Apparently the canadian negotiators didn't do their homework and never bothered to read "The Art of the Deal". When negotiating, one has to be prepared to walk away and President Trump ready to do just that,

MAGA

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Signed by globalist who thinks the EU is great.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Signed by globalist who thinks the EU is great.

Globalism is exactly why you are able to post on these threads.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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