Canada's Freeland to hold NAFTA talks in Washington on Tuesday

Cornelia Mascio
Settembre 14, 2018

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland returned to Washington on Tuesday for talks aimed at rescuing the North American Free Trade Agreement as time was running short before an October 1 deadline.

Freeland said that discussions between U.S. and Canadian negotiating teams over the weekend were "constructive and productive", so she flew in for what may be the only a day of talks with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

Freeland will spend Tuesday in the US capital before she heads to Saskatoon to attend Liberal caucus meetings that begin later in the day and run through Thursday.

U.S. President Donald Trump said at the White House that trade talks with Canada were going well and that Ottawa wants to make a deal.

In return for concessions on dairy, Canada could request USA concessions on the so-called Chapter 19 dispute resolution mechanism that allows Canada to combat us anti-dumping duties that Ottawa regards as unjustified. The official spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the negotiations.

Freeland is expected to answer questions from reporters later this afternoon.

On Monday, Trudeau provided little information when asked by prominent US journalist Katie Couric for an update on the negotiations during an on-stage interview. Couric asked Trudeau during the Women in the World Canada summit in Toronto.

A trade war, and the resulting massive job losses, would be a political failure for the 46-year-old prime minister who came to power in late 2015 promising to improve ties with Washington. Couric continued: "I'm trying to make a little news here people".

After a meeting on Monday between US officials and EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom in Brussels, the Office of the US Trade Representative said they had made progress toward a partial deal.

Negotiators have chipped away in pursuit of NAFTA 2.0, but the top players took a breather Monday.

Freeland emerged after meeting with Lighthizer, saying talks were occurring in a "good" atmosphere.

The talks are focused on US demands to scrap the so-called Chapter-19 dispute resolution mechanism in NAFTA, overturn some of Canada's current "carve-out" of cultural industries from free-trade rules and loosen protections under the dairy sector's supply management system.

Trump added a layer of urgency to the negotiations late last month after announcing his deal with Mexico. In April 2017, Trump almost withdrew from NAFTA after becoming angered by the plight of Wisconsin dairy farmers whose milk protein exports to Canada had been cut off by the Class 7 pricing scheme.

New chapters governing the digital economy and stronger intellectual property, labor and environmental standards could also work to the benefit of US companies, possibly helping Trump to fulfill his campaign promise of creating more American jobs.

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