Canada's Trudeau faces hard choices at NAFTA talks

Image used for representational purpose only

Image used for representational purpose only

Negotiations, now in their 13th month, are key to determining the economic and trade relationship among the three North American countries, with many workers' and industries' prospects hanging in the balance.

A day after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered a full-throated defence of Canada's cultural exemption in NAFTA, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland returned to Washington on Wednesday and resumed talks with Lighthizer.

"The atmosphere continues to be constructive and positive".

However, Canada and the US did not meet the negotiating deadline, and talks are to continue this week.

Trudeau could find himself stranded without allies as the Conservative leadership of British Prime Minister Teresa May is concentrating on bargaining the Brexit deal with the European Union and President Trump stalls over the closed Canadian farming sector. "I love Canada", he said.

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"We are making good progress". -Canada negotiations had initially generated hopeful signals from both camps that a deal could be struck by the end of the week - but hard discussions about dairy and dispute settlement persisted.

William Reinsch, a former Commerce Department trade official, said the Canadians are enduring Trump's abuse to secure a deal that preserves a lucrative continental trading bloc. A public comment period wraps up Thursday and people familiar with the White House deliberations last week said the US president is eager to move soon after that.

"We're seeing goodwill on all sides and if we see some more flexibility, then I think we can start to see things moving in a good direction", added the source. "I think the relationship between Canada and the USA is so close and deep", he says, "that it will take more than one president to destroy it".

"Congress should not interfere w/ these negotiations or I will simply terminate NAFTA entirely & we will be far better off", he tweeted on Saturday.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pivoted during high-stakes negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement this week; saying he can't sign-on to any deal that doesn't protect Canada's "culture" and history. Canada, Mexico and the United States have been re-negotiating the 24-year-old NAFTA deal for more than a year.

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Faced with an unpredictable US president ready to strike on Twitter, Trudeau said the dispute resolution mechanism in Chapter 19 ensures trade rules are followed.

Chicago Tribune: "Car prices projected to increase under Trump trade agreement with Mexico" - "New vehicle prices will rise, along with demand for used cars, as a result of President Donald Trump 's tentative trade agreement with Mexico". The US has reportedly eliminated the Chapter 19 provision in the agreement with Mexico, but Canada has insisted on its retention.

But he now worries that the fight over NAFTA's future could set back the hard-won political gains of the pact and prompt both Canada and Mexico to look increasingly beyond a less-reliable United States to build other global partnerships. "We need a dispute resolution mechanism like Chapter 19 and we will hold firm on that".

On Tuesday, Trudeau said Canada will not sign a deal that excludes a dispute resolution mechanism and exemptions for cultural industries.

Trump is under pressure from Republicans to preserve NAFTA as a deal among all three North American countries, but the president showed signs of chafing at the pressure from Congress.

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"We can't imagine a situation in which an American TV company or network could come up and buy radio stations or buy, you know, CTV for example", Trudeau said earlier in the day, referring to a major Canadian broadcasting network.

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