Trump, Trudeau raise NAFTA brinkmanship, muse about walking away from deal

Posted September 07, 2018

National Post: "From cars to medicine, uncertainty of NAFTA deal means consumers lose out, experts say" - "Under nearly any normal circumstance, the negotiation of a trade pact between countries should result in benefits for consumers, say experts who are closely watching the North American free trade talks unfold in Washington".

"But with Donald Trump driving the agenda for the American side of the bargaining process, some experts warn that the uncertainty generated by the negotiation of a new North American Free Trade Agreement will ultimately hurt consumers".

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland gave a cold shoulder to U.S. President Donald Trump and cozied up instead to her American trade counterpart Friday as Canada's effort to re-enter the North American free-trade fold fell short of meeting its end-of-week deadline.

On Thursday afternoon, Freeland described the atmosphere as "constructive" and "positive".

Both sides are feeling pressure to finalize a deal.

Canada's right to limit dairy imports, procedures for arbitrating complaints about USA trade barriers and the life span of any new North American trade deal are likely to dominate deliberations, the analysts said.

But on the sidelines, President Trump and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have dug into seemingly irreconcilable positions.

But Canada also will raise concerns about intellectual property rights, language governing financial services and the value of goods shipped via e-commerce sellers that can cross the border duty-free, they said.

"If we don't make a fair deal for the USA after decades of abuse, Canada will be out, " he wrote.

Trump hinted there might be progress towards a deal with Canada.

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

With the US midterms eight weeks away, and Trump facing pressure to maintain the Republican hold on the House and Senate, the influence of Congress will permeate the resumption of Wednesday's talks.

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Canada and the U.S. need to present a text to the U.S. Congress by October 1 in order to join the deal the Trump administration signed with Mexico last week.

Dan Ujczo, an Ohio-based trade lawyer with Dickinson Wright, said while getting rid of the cultural exemption seems to fit with Lighthizer's philosophy, he can't see Trump holding up an otherwise good deal because of it.

It was the hill that former Progressive Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney was willing to die on during the final hours of the original Canada-U.S. free trade deal in 1988.

"We'll walk away and not sign a bad deal for Canadians", he vowed.

At 3:12 p.m. (1912 GMT), the Canadian dollar was trading 0.3 per cent higher at $1.3139 to the greenback, or 76.11 USA cents.

Trump is threatening to move ahead on a deal with Mexico that excludes Canada.

USA business and labour leaders have warned Trump not to dump Canada from NAFTA.

"We really are confident, as we have been from the outset, that a deal which is good for Canada, good for the United States and good for Mexico is possible", Freeland said, as she departed the office of the U.S. Trade Representative on her way to the Canadian Embassy.

Campbell, who served in Brian Mulroney's cabinet and later became Canada's first female prime minister for six months in 1993 after Mulroney resigned, said Chapter 19 dispute resolution was "important" in the first 15 years of the agreement, but hasn't been used as frequently in the past decade.

More than two-thirds of Canadian exports go to the United States, equivalent to 20 percent of its GDP, while Canada is the largest export market for the United States.

The president then threatened to go ahead with a Mexico-only arrangement if Canada did not bow to American demands.