Canada-U.S. trade talks break down without a deal

01 September, 2018, 20:19 | Author: Orlando Hughes
  • What is the 'new Nafta' and why was the old one controversial?

Throughout the day Friday, it became increasingly clear that Canada and the US would be unable to reach an agreement.

Earlier this week, Trump announced the U.S. and Mexico had reached a preliminary trade deal as part of an overhaul of the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

He followed that post with another tweet, saying there is "no political necessity" for Canada to join the new NAFTA deal.

Canada's Foreign Minister said on Friday that an agreement had yet to be reached with the USA on salvaging the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland attends a trilateral meeting with Mexico's Secretary of Economy Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal, left, and Ambassador Robert E. Lighthizer, United States Trade Representative, during NAFTA talks.

His remarks immediately came to the attention of the Canadian delegation, which had already suspected the US was not bargaining in good faith.

In a response to the report, Trump tweeted in all caps that he made "off the record comments" to Bloomberg.

The Canadian dairy industry is only about a tenth the size of the U.S. industry, said Mike von Massow, a food economist at the University of Guelph in Ontario.

A statement from the US trade representative's office said Canada had made no compromises to the American side on the thorny issue of dairy-market access: "there have been no concessions by Canada on agriculture", it read.

The United States and Canada failed to reach a trade agreement before the Friday deadline. USA officials, Lighthizer continued, "are continuing to work toward agreement". Under U.S. law, Trump must wait 90 days before signing the pact.

Canada has reportedly offered to make concessions to its protected dairy industry, which has come under repeated attack from Trump, in an effort to retain Chapter 19.

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On the other side of the border, however, Trump singled out those protections for Canadian farmers as an unfair blow to their United States counterparts, tweeting in March that the country should treat American farmers better. Support from Democrats would be needed to pass a purely bilateral deal, they said.

Freeland studiously avoided talking about the remarks all day, never once mentioning the president by name during her multiple media appearances, including a long-awaited news conference at the Canadian embassy.

It remains to be seen if the notice Lighthizer sends to Congress only mentions the deal with Mexico, or includes recent progress in talks with Canada.

"Wow, I made OFF THE RECORD COMMENTS to Bloomberg concerning Canada, and this powerful understanding was BLATANTLY VIOLATED".

"At least Canada knows where I stand", Trump later said on Twitter.

Trump didn't help trade talks Friday after his private remarks leaked out that he thinks the final deal will be "totally on our terms", according to a report in the Toronto Star.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held an event Friday in Oshawa, where he announced a government investment towards the creation of new automotive jobs.

"If the Canadian market is opened up, I would anticipate a very long transition period, so whatever benefits might accrue would be quite far down the line", she said, pointing to slow uptake by business of provisions included in the Canada-EU trade agreement known as CETA.

Canada rejoined NAFTA talks on Tuesday, a day after the USA and Mexico reached a deal, tweaking the free trade agreement.

The U.S. and Canada are wrangling over several tough issues, including American demands for greater access to the Canadian dairy market and Canada's insistence on maintaining NAFTA's existing procedure for resolving disputes.

Dairy products are nearly three hundred percent tariff.


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