There is still a way to go to reach
a new North American Free Trade Agreement, Canada's prime minister said
Wednesday, brushing off US pressure for a quick deal as high-level talks
resumed in Washington.
Canada's top diplomat Chrystia Freeland met twice with US Trade
Representative Robert Lighthizer in Washington on Wednesday, and called some
of the issues involved fiendishly complex.
Negotiators have been in talks nearly non-stop for a month as they try to
overcome hurdles and agree on a NAFTA rewrite.
The goal is to see if we can get a good deal for Canada, a good deal for
everyone, said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
We remain confident that there is always a deal possible, but it will
take more work.
US President Donald Trump, who called NAFTA one of the worst trade deals
in history, spoke to Trudeau late Tuesday by telephone, and the two leaders
discussed trade, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a
Trump demanded the 1994 accord between Canada, the United States and
Mexico be revised, and the talks started a year ago. Trump has blamed the
trade pact for sending many manufacturing jobs notably in the auto sector
As the sides continue work towards a rewrite of the 25-year-old pact,
Freeland told reporters on Wednesday they already have tackled a fiendishly
complex set of issues and economically absolutely core to the North American
Now officials are working on the remaining disagreements, centering on
Canada's managed dairy sector, and the dispute resolution provisions.
However, Freeland declined to discuss specifics on the status of the talks
or whether any progress had been made in overcoming those differences.
Our negotiators have been really hard at it including an all-night
session last night of one team. So we are working very, very hard, she said
earlier in the day.
In between meetings with US trade officials, Freeland huddled at the
Canadian Embassy with Ontario Premier Doug Ford, the Conservative leader of
the province home to much of Canada's automotive industry.
The United States and Mexico sealed their own two-way deal at the end of
August, after reaching agreement on auto content requirements. They plan to
sign the accord by December 1, and since then Trump has ramped up pressure on
Canada to accept his terms.
But Ottawa has seemed reluctant to give in to Trump's push to agree to a
deal before US midterm elections in November, and the transfer of power
December 1 to Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
Trudeau's Liberals also need a win to hold up to voters when they return
to the polls in one year.
Dairy farmers on edge
Ottawa and Washington remain at odds over Canada's protected dairy sector
and cultural subsidies, as well as Canada's demand for an international
system for resolving disputes.
Dairy farmers publicly urged Trudeau not to cave to demands for increased
access to the nation's dairy market, noting that the US already sells five
times more milk to Canada than Canada sells to the US.
We call on the government to ensure that any final NAFTA deal has no
further negative impact on our dairy sector, Pierre Lampron, the president
of the Dairy Farmers of Canada, said at a news conference.
Flanked by dairy farmers from all of Canada's 10 provinces, he said Ottawa
had given milk and cheese carve-outs to the EU and 10 member nations in the
Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact in order to secure free trade with those
This cost Canada Can$250 million (US$193 million) in lost milk production,
he said. The Canadian industry is valued at Can$19 billion.
That also hurts associated industries, Lampron said. Enough is enough.
The government controls production and prices of milk, eggs and poultry,
resulting in higher prices for consumers but a stable income for farmers.
We will continue to defend supply management, Trudeau said. This is a
system that works for Canadians. It works for our agricultural industry.
Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)