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"Canada's NAFTA goals include modernizing labour and environmental standards, Freeland says"

Freeland's wish list sound's like the kind of stuff unions might pursue in negotiations. In this case Canada comes across as the labour component and the US the employer.



Edited by DEFCON

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It appears that this is a puzzle we will not be able to solve.  


‎Today, ‎October ‎18, ‎2017, ‏‎34 minutes ago | Marie-Danielle Smith

OTTAWA — Wondering what goes on between Donald Trump’s ears? You’re not alone.

As the fourth round of negotiations on an updated North American Free Trade Agreement wrapped up Tuesday, we asked a roster of Canadian experts (and an American, too) to put themselves in the president’s shoes.

Here’s what they had to say.

Not a normal negotiation

Meredith Lilly, Simon Reisman Chair in International Affairs at Carleton University and former international trade adviser to Prime Minister Stephen Harper

“This is the furthest thing from a normal negotiation that we’ve ever experienced. This is the first time Canada has entered into negotiations with a country whose leadership doesn’t necessarily want a deal — at least not one that would ever be acceptable to Mexico and Canada,” said Lilly.

That makes it difficult for those two countries to bargain seriously on the toughest issues if the U.S. has “one foot out the door,” she said.

“On the U.S.’s dairy demands, it will be difficult for Prime Minister Trudeau to take the political risk of making any concessions in this very sensitive area if he has no confidence that NAFTA can ever get done under the Trump administration,” said Lilly.

Trump is in a tunnel by himself

Isabelle Bouchard, director of communications and government relations at the Dairy Farmers of Canada and attendee of all NAFTA negotiating rounds

Trump seems to be making outrageous propositions now (including demanding that Canada end supply management for dairy) to force slightly-more-moderate proposals later, Bouchard said. “He wants it all for America and us, we’re just spectators of his greatness,” she said sarcastically.

The president may want to create enemies in Canada and Mexico that can be blamed for perceived unfairness. They’re a closer target than North Korea. “Either he’s so intelligent that no one can figure out his strategy or the strategy is just to push everybody over the fence,” she said.

“He might want the Americans to believe that they’re in a siege position from everyone. Maybe they should migrate to the moon,” Bouchard said. On the road to getting a good deal for Americans, Trump “seems to be in a tunnel by himself.”

The world is upside down and inside out

Maryscott Greenwood, principal at Dentons’ Public Policy and Regulation group in Washington, D.C. and former American diplomat to Canada

“I think he’s trying to figure out if he can fulfil a campaign promise in some manner, if he can, for example, grow manufacturing in the United States without completely screwing up the economy,” said Greenwood.

Trump has been “frustrated by the constitutional system that he finds himself in” on other promises, she said, so he may see this as an area where he can make gains.

His volatile style makes it challenging for anyone to deal with him, though, and he has no control over his NAFTA dance partners. “The world is upside down and inside out and that’s the way he likes it. And people are adjusting to it. And it’s not easy.”


“There is no orb, there is no crystal ball … or way to look into the heart of mind of Donald Trump to see where this is heading.”

No crystal ball for Trump’s brain

Shachi Kurl, Executive Director of the Angus Reid Institute

“There is no orb, there is no crystal ball … or way to look into the heart of mind of Donald Trump to see where this is heading,” said Kurl. And it may be smarter to pay attention to the backroom meetings than the President’s tweets, she said.

One thing for sure: Canadians are coming together in the face of Trump’s sabre-rattling. According to Angus Reid polling data, support for NAFTA has soared in the past year.

“There’s nothing like a Donald Trump south of the border to bring Canadians together,” said Kurl.

Trigger finger tweets

Sujata Dey, trade campaigner at the Council of Canadians, a nonprofit organization critical of free trade deals

“With his bluster, and rapidly shifting moods, and trigger finger tweets, Trump does give the impression of an unco-ordinated, hyper-impulsive president with no fixed NAFTA strategy,” said Dey.

The president is about “ego-inflation,” not reaching an end goal, she said. This may not be effective but it reaches his main audience: those who “rightfully feel left out of globalization and have not felt the benefits.”

“A fight with Congress to try and end NAFTA — doomed to fail — might be just the performance they want,” Dey said. 

Prepare for a post-NAFTA world

Astrid Pregel, president of Feminomics, a consulting firm focused on women’s economic empowerment

“We are dealing with a President who has never negotiated an international trade deal, whose grasp of the issues appears questionable and whose focus is rhetoric aimed at his base,” said Pregel.

Whatever happens, Canada has to be ready for termination of the deal, she said.

“It really could happen that the Americans will work against their own economic interests. We have to be prepared to create a post NAFTA world built on our strengths, resources and talents,” she said.

American businesses aren’t even onside

Perrin Beatty, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

Speaking to the Post from Washington, Beatty said, “I don’t think anybody knows what the strategy is here. It’s very clear that a number of the proposals that (Trump has) put on the table are unacceptable to American business, let alone the business communities in Mexico and Canada.” 

There’s either no strategy, or Trump is trying to get rid of NAFTA altogether, Beatty said, and the American business community is worried. To destroy the deal would be “very destabilizing for the whole world,” he opined.

Where is Trump’s attitude coming from? “It isn’t sound economics. And it isn’t logic, which pretty well narrows it down to politics.” 

Maybe logic will save the day

Peter Hall, Vice-President and Chief Economist, Export Development Canada

Hall urged us to remember a “classic U-turn” during the first week of Trump’s administration, when a border adjustment tax on Mexico was announced and scrapped within a day. “To me, it’s logic that governed that, and that gives me comfort,” he said of the reversal.

Although “nobody wants to be cavalier” about the seriousness of the president’s statements, that same logic will carry the day if NAFTA dies, even if the American business community has to establish this with the president post-announcement, Hall said.

“The logic goes on and on and on about how it’s really not going to look like, from day one through year three of a tear-up of NAFTA, it’s going to ‘make America great again.'”

Exports good, imports bad

Colin Robertson, former diplomat, Vice President and Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute

If you take Trump at his word (another question in itself) he’s a mercantilist. “Exports good and imports bad. His measure is trade balance, i.e. deficit bad, surplus good,” Robertson said.

According to statements from trade representative Richard Lighthizer, the American strategy is to throw hefty U.S. weight around and use its market leverage to force an ultimatum on partners. Whether that’ll work is “the trillion dollar question,” said Robertson.

He wants to scrap it

Hassan Yussuff, president of the Canadian Labour Congress.

“I don’t think (Trump’s) intentions are to renegotiate NAFTA. I think the indications are really clear that, clearly, he wants to scrap the agreement and do bilateral (deals) both with Canada and with Mexico,” Yussuff said. 

Simply updating NAFTA won’t solve a manufacturing imbalance between the U.S. and Mexico, and “poison pills” in the negotiations show Trump doesn’t believe in the process and is trying to force a blank slate. “I think he thinks it’s going to work.” 

Scrapping it wouldn’t solve the problem

Brett House, Deputy Chief Economist at Scotiabank

“The White House says that it is focused on using trade policy to reduce bilateral trade deficits, but this goal is impossible to achieve through even radical rewrites of existing trade agreements,” House said.

“The U.S. will continue running a trade deficit with the world so long as its people consume more than they save.”

No strategy at all

Trevor Tombe, economics professor at the University of Calgary

The assumption that there is a strategy at all may be faulty in the first place, said Tombe.

“I’m truly at a loss. Trump clearly has a questionable grasp of policy and, judging from his legislative agenda to date, politics. I wonder about how fruitful it is to try and discern a grand strategy where none may exist,” said Tombe.


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October 20, 2017 1:59 pm

Updated: October 20, 2017 2:01 pm

U.S. NAFTA negotiators admit they haven’t done their research on ending trade agreement

By Alexander Panetta The Canadian Press

WASHINGTON – American policy-makers admit they have not worked to analyze the economic impact of the end of the North American Free Trade Agreement, even as President Donald Trump threatens to cancel the agreement.

That absence of research applies to both elected branches of the U.S. government: neither the White House nor congressional researchers have an impact assessment, despite uncertainty over the fate of

Frustrations at the bargaining table exploded into the open at the last round where the most common conversation topic in the hallways involved whether Trump’s team was intentionally trying to sabotage a deal.

A research unit for Congress, the U.S. Government Accountability Office, which performs studies for lawmakers, tells The Canadian Press that it has in the past conducted analysis on international issues like the monitoring of Iran’s nuclear program, but nobody has yet requested research on NAFTA.

“We have not been asked to look at the (NAFTA) issue,” said an official there.

It’s the same at the White House. Donald Trump’s trade czar, Robert Lighthizer, says he hasn’t yet done the research. In an exchange with U.S. reporters this week, he said his current focus is trying to get a deal, not study life without NAFTA.

Canada, Mexico reject U.S. NAFTA demands

The countries have pushed the negotiation schedule into next year, shelving talk of a quick easy agreement.

“You always think about what might happen, but we haven’t done any analysis of that at this point,” Lighthizer was quoted saying by Inside U.S. Trade. “No, we don’t really have a plan beyond trying to get a good agreement…

“(But) if we end up not having an agreement, my guess is all three countries will do just fine.”

Some Washington trade-watchers find that stunning.

Duncan Wood, a Mexico expert, said the U.S. is certainly acting like it wants to leave the pact, putting forward proposals the other countries could never accept. Wood said he fears the Trump administration is inching toward a pullout – without doing its homework.

“That doesn’t make me feel very good when I go to bed at night,” he told panel this week at the Washington International Trade Association.

“If they were taking these decisions based upon years and years of studies and saying, ‘You know what, we think we’ll be absolutely fine, because the stats show it,’ I could say, ‘Okay, fine, I get it, I may disagree, because I like Mexico, but for the United States, I get it’…

“(But) that (absence of research) worries me.”

Producers sell different chicken parts to different markets, based on local preferences. He said Mexico’s huge chicken tariffs would lead to an oversupply of dark meat on the U.S. market; a shortage in Mexico; and chicken plants moving to Mexico.

But he said broken cross-border supply chains aren’t what worries him most. Wood expressed fear that the current fight at the NAFTA table is a prelude to a bigger battle against the World Trade Organization and international trading system: “These are dark days, my friends… This is near-apocalyptic what we’re looking at. I don’t mean to exaggerate. I’m not one for hyperbole.

“I actually am terrified about what’s about to happen.”

The last Republican president expressed similar concerns.

George W. Bush delivered a gloomy speech this week that, without mentioning Donald Trump, warned about the degradation of American democracy, mean-spiritedness, racism, conspiracy-mongering, and attacks on open commerce.“Free trade helped make America into a global economic power,” Bush said. “We see a fading confidence in the value of free markets and international trade – forgetting that conflict, instability, and poverty follow in the wake of protectionism.”

He said policy-makers should be sensitive to the painful effects globalization has had on some industries: “People are hurting. They are angry. And, they are frustrated. We must hear them and help them. But we can’t wish globalization away, any more than we could wish away the agricultural revolution or the industrial revolution.”

The Canadian government says it’s been studying a variety of NAFTA contingency scenarios since last August, although that work has primarily involved the legal and political questions surrounding a breakup.

As for the economics, the former head of Foreign Affairs’ computer-modelling unit, Dan Ciuriak, said he’s working on a paper on different scenarios for the C.D. Howe Institute. His preliminary estimate is that the most drastic result – the end of free trade in North America – would see Canada’s economy contract 2.5 per cent long-term, with a larger shock in the short term.

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'Napping on NAFTA': Harper blasts Trudeau government handling of negotiations

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says that Canada is more than happy to engage in a thoughtful way how to improve on NAFTA with the U.S.

The Canadian Press
Published Friday, October 27, 2017 6:19PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, October 27, 2017 9:25PM EDT

WASHINGTON -- Stephen Harper has expressed alarm over his successor's handling of NAFTA negotiations with the United States, with the former prime minister declaring the negotiations in real peril in a memo titled, "Napping on NAFTA."

The memo was obtained by The Canadian Press and it criticizes the Trudeau government in several areas: For too quickly rejecting U.S. proposals, for insisting on negotiating alongside Mexico, and for promoting progressive priorities like labour, gender, aboriginal and environmental issues.

The former prime minister says he was worried by what he heard during a recent trip to Washington, where he discussed NAFTA at an event but did not publicly share his misgivings about the Trudeau government.

"I came back alarmed," said the Oct. 25 letter signed by Harper, and sent to clients of his firm Harper & Associates.

"I fear that the NAFTA re-negotiation is going very badly. I also believe that President (Donald) Trump's threat to terminate NAFTA is not a bluff... I believe this threat is real. Therefore, Canada's government needs to get its head around this reality: it does not matter whether current American proposals are worse than what we have now. What matters in evaluating them is whether it is worth having a trade agreement with the Americans or not."

The current government was not pleased by the letter.

Officials in Ottawa accused the former prime minister of essentially negotiating in public -- against the government of Canada. They called the release of the two-page note ill-timed and perplexing.

"This is a gift to the Americans," said one current Canadian official.

"There's nothing Wilbur Ross and Robert Lighthizer (from the trump administration) want to see more than prominent Canadians standing up to suggest making concessions to the Americans. Make no mistake: Wilbur Ross and Robert Lighthizer will be very happy with this letter."

The memo accuses the Canadian government of stubbornness on several fronts.

First, it suggests Canada has been too quick in rejecting American proposals as a "red line," or "poison pill." He said such knee-jerk refusals are only a viable strategy if you truly believe Trump cannot cancel NAFTA -- an assessment Harper does not share.

Second, he suggests the government made a tactical error by co-operating too closely with Mexico. He says Trump campaigned on constant complaints about Mexico, not Canada, and Harper appears to suggest it was unwise of the Liberals to insist upon renegotiating a trilateral NAFTA: "How did we get ourselves in this position?... The elephant is Mexico... In fact, the U.S. is both irked and mystified by the Liberals' unwavering devotion to Mexico."

Third, he criticizes the Liberals for pursuing their progressive trade policies in these talks: "Did anyone really think that the Liberals could somehow force the Trump administration into enacting their agenda -- union power, climate change, aboriginal claims, gender issues? But while the Canadian government was doing that, the Americans have been laying down their real demands."

Finally, he accuses the Liberals of bungling other disputes over lumber and airplanes. Harper says the Liberals passed up on a chance to renew the softwood lumber agreement in exchange for supporting the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and he says their subsidies to Bombardier set the stage for huge tariffs today.

The Liberals say that last point about softwood lumber is based on a falsehood.

They say there was never a softwood settlement on the table, and that claims to the contrary are wrong. As for the progressive trade agenda, they point to recent polls showing that improved labour and environmental standards in NAFTA are exceptionally popular in the U.S., and they say some of these provisions could help win crucial ratification votes from Democrats to actually get an eventual deal through the U.S. Congress.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland scoffed at Harper's missive.

"We will continue to defend Canadian interests," Freeland tweeted on Friday night. "Capitulation is not a negotiating strategy."

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"Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland scoffed at Harper's missive.

"We will continue to defend Canadian interests," Freeland tweeted on Friday night. "Capitulation is not a negotiating strategy.""

Why am I not left with a sense of inspiration?




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47 minutes ago, DEFCON said:

"Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland scoffed at Harper's missive.

"We will continue to defend Canadian interests," Freeland tweeted on Friday night. "Capitulation is not a negotiating strategy.""

Why am I not left with a sense of inspiration?




Inspiration only comes if you subscribe to "“Sunny ways my friends, sunny ways,” he said. “This is what positive politics can do.”"

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More of their moral stance ????   

NAFTA's Chapter 11 dispute mechanism too costly for Canada at $314M, says report

CCPA says Canada has been sued over twice as many times as Mexico and the U.S. combined

By Dan Healing, The Canadian PressPosted: Jan 16, 2018 7:47 AM ET Last Updated: Jan 16, 2018 7:47 AM ET

A progressive group says it's baffled that the Canadian government has worked at the NAFTA negotiating table to protect a dispute resolution system that allows companies to sue governments, estimating it has cost Canadian taxpayers $314 million.

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives says in a report to be published Tuesday that Chapter 11 provisions in the North American Free Trade Agreement have cost Canada $95 million in unrecoverable legal fees, calculated based on data it obtained through an access to information request.

The report comes ahead of the latest round of NAFTA renegotiations, slated to kick off in Montreal on Jan. 23. The U.S. wants to water down the enforcement mechanism for Chapter 11 by making dispute resolution panels non-binding or voluntary.

The CCPA says Canadian losses through that system amount to $314 million when the legal fees are added to $219 million in awards and settlements under Chapter 11, also known as the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) system, since the trade treaty was enacted in 1994.

"The current renegotiation opens the door to get rid of, or at least neutralize, the investor-state dispute settlement mechanism in NAFTA and I certainly think Canada should grasp the opportunity," said Scott Sinclair, a senior research fellow with the CCPA.

"I do think negotiators and the government are weighing their options ... because the U.S. administration wants to make ISDS optional. While a lot of the Trump administration's proposals in the NAFTA talks are harmful to Canadian interests, this one is beneficial."

Canada targeted, says CCPA

Chapter 11 was designed to give investors confidence when they do business in another country by providing an impartial tribunal to settle disputes with the government over discriminatory treatment. The Trump administration says this chapter encourages job outsourcing to Mexico and wants to make participation voluntary.

It's one of three chapters that act as NAFTA's enforcement system, all of which the Trump administration is seeking to water down or eliminate.

Chapter 20, rarely used, lets governments sue governments. Trump's administration wants to make it strictly advisory.

Chapter 19 was Canada's big demand in the original NAFTA and remains a priority. It allows companies to dispute punitive duties, like those imposed on Canadian softwood lumber and on aerospace company Bombardier Inc. The Trump administration wants Chapter 19 scrapped entirely.

Omnitra, the owner of the washed-out rail line leading to the isolated community of Churchill, Man., says it will challenge Ottawa under the North American Free Trade Agreement. (Omnitrax)

The CCPA says Canada has been the target of more claims under Chapter 11 than its Mexican and American partners and the trend is getting worse as Canada has been sued over twice as many times as Mexico and the U.S. combined since 2010.

Canada is also far more likely to lose challenges — the CCPA says Canada has won nine and lost eight concluded cases so far while Mexico has won seven and lost five and the U.S. has won all 11 of its concluded cases.

It says Canada is currently facing eight active investor-state claims — including Omnitrax's recent NAFTA claim related to its broken rail line to Churchill, Man., and Lone Pine's challenge to Quebec's fracking moratorium — that combined seek more than $475 million in damages.

'A ridiculous amount of money'

Lori Wallach of the progressive Washington-based group Public Citizen is also critical of Canada's defense of Chapter 11.

"This is the irony to it. Canada is No. 1 in the world of developed countries that has lost under investor-state," she said.

"Canada's paid out a ridiculous amount of money... Of any country Canada should say, 'That's it. I've had it with investor-state."'

Sinclair said Canada could go along with the United States and allow countries to opt in or out of Chapter 11 in return for concessions in other areas.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said last week Canada will bring some new, "creative" ideas to the sixth round of NAFTA negotiations in Montreal next week, in response to some of the "more unconventional" U.S. proposals.

While Canada continues to hope for the best from the NAFTA renegotiation, Freeland says it is also preparing for the worst-case scenario — a possible decision by Trump to withdraw from the pact.

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On ‎2017‎-‎10‎-‎28 at 2:14 PM, Malcolm said:

Inspiration only comes if you subscribe to "“Sunny ways my friends, sunny ways,” he said. “This is what positive politics can do.”"

Still doing better now under 'Sunny Ways' than under 9 years of Harper conservative regime.  I know which I would prefer....

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Unless I misunderstood, the article's stats are relative to the senior communist's performance not the little fellow's.

And anything good happening here economically certainly cannot be attributed to little t's government, it's just overflow from the US experience. When Freeland has finally negotiated Canada out of the nafta our position won't be so comfortable .



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sunny ways
January 17, 2018 6:55 pm

Donald Trump says terminating NAFTA would yield the ‘best deal’ in renegotiations

By Jeff Mason and David Lawder Reuters
REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday said that terminating the North American Free Trade Agreement would result in the “best deal” to revamp the 24-year-old trade pact with Canada and Mexico in favor of U.S. interests.

Lawmakers as well as agricultural and industrial groups have warned Trump not to quit NAFTA, but he said that may be the outcome.

“We’re renegotiating NAFTA now. We’ll see what happens. I may terminate NAFTA,” Trump said in an interview with Reuters.

“A lot of people are going to be unhappy if I terminate NAFTA. A lot of people don’t realize how good it would be to terminate NAFTA because the way you’re going to make the best deal is to terminate NAFTA. But people would like to see me not do that,” he said.

READ MORE: Justin Trudeau remains optimistic on NAFTA: ‘We know that there is a good deal to be had’

Trump‘s comments come less than a week before trade negotiators from the United States, Canada and Mexico meet in Montreal for the sixth of seven scheduled rounds of negotiations to update NAFTA.

The talks are viewed as pivotal for the success of the NAFTA renegotiation effort because major differences remain over aggressive U.S. demands on autos, dispute settlement and a five-year sunset clause — proposals that some business groups have labeled “fatal.”

Trump discussed NAFTA and other trade issues last weekend in Florida with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who is leading the U.S. negotiating strategy.

Trump‘s comments appeared to validate concerns voiced last week by Canadian government sources that the U.S. president, now a year in office, looked increasingly likely to announce a pullout from NAFTA..

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland added that U.S. threats to quit NAFTA had to be taken seriously.

WATCH: Canada on NAFTA: “prepared for any eventuality”

The Reuters interview with Trump also reversed gains on Wednesday in Mexico’s peso, which has been highly sensitive to NAFTA withdrawal talk.

But Trump told the Wall Street Journal last week that he would be “a little bit flexible” on the withdrawal threat.

READ MORE: Bill Kelly: Is Canada’s NAFTA long game paying off?

Farm state lawmakers have been making the case to Trump in recent weeks that a NAFTA withdrawal could cause a major tariff increase on U.S. corn and other crops sold to Mexico, hurting a major political support base for Trump in the rural United States.

On Monday, automakers from Detroit and around the world urged the Trump administration not to quit NAFTA and to back away from some of its demands in the negotiations.

© 2018 Reuters

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"On Monday, automakers from Detroit and around the world urged the Trump administration not to quit NAFTA and to back away from some of its demands in the negotiations."

America truly has all its dependant territories by the .....

It probably won't matter how nafta works out anyhow as China & Russia, representing the 'BRIC', are already well aware the US is structurally weak and will likely move soon to eject the US Federal Reserve Banking system from its position of world dominance and replace it with their own 'petro-dollar' scheme.

In that regard I think we can expect to see a decree of some sort in the very near future from China & Russia, probably delivered through the UN's Security Council, advising the US to back off when it comes to taking any form of military action against their new found friend and banking family partner, NOKO.







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Please let's not forget, and I will remind you of this fact, it was the Americans who wanted and pushed for NAFTA in the first place, and it was American corporations who benefitted the most from it.  One doesn't want to piss off big money now, do they?

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Canada begins negotiations from a position inferior to the US; we're kind of like the economic regional carrier, we want to grow and prosper, but can't do squat without the blessing of the major relationship partner. Sending in a light weight like Freeland to negotiate an international trade deal on the basis of her party's social agenda informs us we should temper our expectation of the result.





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Rona Ambrose: Trump nixing NAFTA is just a matter of 'when'

Rona Ambrose speaks to CTV's Question Period in January 2018. Staff
Published Sunday, January 21, 2018 7:00AM EST
Last Updated Sunday, January 21, 2018 7:02AM EST

Canada's trade insiders say they are preparing for the worst when it comes to the fate of NAFTA, with one top adviser saying it’s only a matter of time before U.S. President Donald Trump pulls out of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

“The consensus felt like it’s not if, it’s when he’s going to pull the plug,” Rona Ambrose, the former Conservative interim leader and member of Canada’s NAFTA advisory council, told CTV's Question Period.

Ambrose’s comments come as the latest round of talks between Canada, Mexico and the United States get underway in Montreal on Sunday. The talks are set to wrap up on Jan. 29.

“I really believe Canada is doing everything that we can do,” Ambrose added. “I think we just need to ramp up all those measures even more in the next week or so,” she said.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, who is Canada’s lead on the file, told Question Period host Evan Solomon that Canada is “absolutely” preparing for a Plan B.

“When it comes to what the U.S. may or may not do, our approach is to hope for the best and prepare for the worst,” she said.

“And it is no secret -- in fact, it is absolutely a matter of public record, that the U.S., including the president, has said quite clearly that they have thought about invoking Article 2205, which would set the clock ticking on the six-month withdrawal notice. And I think that it is only sensible and prudent for us to take the president at his word. So we are absolutely prepared for every eventuality.”

But Freeland remains hopeful NAFTA will survive.

“We also approach these negotiations ... with a spirit of good will and positive intent and we’re going to be working hard to get to a positive result,” she said.

Canada’s backup plan?

Last week, Canada’s International Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said that there was no clear “plan B” if the trilateral deal gets torn up.

Frank McKenna, the former premier of New Brunswick and a top Liberal, now says that he sees an “embryonic plan B taking place now.”

McKenna said that includes diversifying markets through continued pursuit of an 11-country Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade mission to India, “overtures with China,” as well as “something like accelerated depreciation for business investment.”

“But it’s really difficult to put a concrete plan B out there when your primary mission is to achieve plan A,” McKenna said.

Progressive chapter problem?

Freeland is denying reports that Canada’s insistence on so-called “progressive” chapters -- on labour standards, gender equality, the environment and Indigenous rights -- has been a sticking point for the U.S.

“I’m really proud that, in Montreal, for the first time ... we’re going to have a table devoted to discussing the Indigenous chapter,” Freeland said.

“Having said that, these progressive elements have in no way been the sticking point in these negotiations,” she added.

Freeland said “the key sticking points” are “unconventional U.S. proposals: things like Chapter 19, the sunset clause, rules of origin.”

Chapter 19 is the agreement’s dispute resolution mechanism. Rules of origin refer to provisions on how much foreign content, such as autoparts, can be included in a product without tariffs.

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde told Question Period that NAFTA must to be updated to reflect the changing legal landscape around First Nations rights, and it would benefit the U.S. to recognize that.

“They’re going to lose out if NAFTA is dead as well,” he said. “This is good for the economy on both sides.”

Meanwhile Jean Charest, former premier of Quebec, said that he understands what the government is trying to do with the progressive chapters, but called for a “rethink.”

“The point they’re trying to make is that trade is about prosperity and prosperity isn’t just about numbers,” he said. “It’s about social justice. It’s about the environment. It’s about gender equality. It’s about a broader set of issues.”

“Is this the best way to do it?” he added. “By putting them or advancing them on the table of these trade agreements? I’m not sure.”

Ambrose, meanwhile, said she doesn’t believe the progressive chapters are actually a sticking point, but rather something the Americans will point to in order to paint Canada as uncooperative.

“They’re positioning themselves so they’ll be able to pull out,” Ambrose said. “That’s where I think this is going.”

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Will this be the going/going/gone session?

Canada braces for angry U.S. guests in pivotal round of NAFTA talks

Rona Ambrose, Jean Charest and Frank McKenna discuss the state of NAFTA negotiations and whether Trump will end the trade agreement.

Mike Blanchfield and Alexander Panetta, The Canadian Press
Published Sunday, January 21, 2018 1:46PM EST

Canada will be hosting an annoyed and angry United States as the sixth round of talks in the North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiation unfold over the coming week.

The Trump administration is making known its displeasure about Canada's contributions to date and demanding progress over the marathon 10-day session.

Multiple sources aware of the U.S. administration's views say the acrimony has a variety of causes, including Canada's recent decision to file a sweeping complaint about U.S. trade practices at the World Trade Organization and its pursuit of a progressive trade agenda that includes Indigenous and labour provisions.

The rhetoric around its implacable rejection of the most controversial U.S. positions -- raising continental content provisions on automobiles, scrapping a dispute resolution mechanism, limiting Canadian access to U.S. procurement, and instituting a five-year sunset clause -- as well as bitterness over apparent leaks are all fuelling the U.S. animosity towards Canada, say sources.

Sources familiar with the Canadian position dismiss all that and say the tone at the negotiating table is professional and cordial, and that Canada is prepared to table counter-proposals in order to make progress.

They say Canadian negotiators are making constructive proposals to find common ground with the Americans on what some have called poison pills designed to kill the deal.

Indeed, Canada, the U.S. and Mexico are showing signs they all want to see tangible progress in this round in order keep the negotiations on track, and discourage U.S. President Donald Trump from announcing his intent to withdraw from NAFTA.

It will be another week before Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, American counterpart Robert Lighthizer and Mexico's Ildefonso Guajardo arrive in Montreal on Jan. 29 to close the extended round that gets underway earlier than planned on Sunday.

The way some see it, Lighthizer is in no hurry to come back to Canada.

"The feeling of ill will between Bob Lighthizer's office and the Canadians -- I don't think you can underestimate it," said Sarah Goldfeder, a former U.S. diplomat who now represents American clients in an Ottawa consultancy.

"He's extremely frustrated with China and Canada," added Goldfeder.

"Those are the two countries he thinks are being most unfair to the United States. Those are the ones taking up a good chunk of his time, and not in positive ways."

Goldfeder noted that when Freeland went to Washington two weeks ago she met Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and members of Congress -- but not Lighthizer.

When Guajardo visited later in the month, Lighthizer's door was open to him, she said.

Freeland's office didn't reply to a request for comment on the lack of a meeting with Lighthizer.

Colin Robertson, a retired diplomat with extensive experience in the U.S., said the body language between Lighthizer and Freeland is "terrible," which is telling.

"He's a bully and she gets under his skin," said Robertson. "She and Guajardo are amigos. No one would say that about Freeland and Lighthizer."

Lighthizer isn't willing to blow up NAFTA over the WTO challenge, but Canada should brace for some bilateral retaliation. Meanwhile, his office isn't interested in the Canadian progressive trade agenda -- entrenching Indigenous, gender and workers' rights issues in the pact -- because it has the whiff of Canada dictating social policy to the U.S., Goldfeder said.

Lori Wallach, the director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch, a group normally at odds with the Republicans, was also critical of the Canadian posture.

"Canada is 100 per cent not engaged. Mexico started engaging in the last month or so," said Wallach, who knows Lighthizer.

"Probably after the Montreal round, that increases the prospect that there could be a notice of withdrawal."

Ottawa is defensive. The characterization of Canada as obstructionist is nonsense, and the product of strategic leaking of information, according to another official familiar with the content of talks, and who agreed to speak anonymously citing the sensitivity of the ongoing negotiations.

The official said Canadian and American negotiators, as well as their Mexican counterparts, know each other well and are working methodically in the 30 separate negotiating rooms to make incremental progress.

The official pointed to Freeland's Jan. 11 comments at the Liberal cabinet retreat in London, Ont. as evidence Canada is doing some "creative thinking" about how to deal with "unconventional" U.S. proposals.

The complaints about Canada's progressive trade agenda are also a bit rich, the official said, because the real obstacles are more fundamental -- the American poison pill proposals that wouldn't fly in any trade negotiation.

In particular, the official cited the U.S. proposal to ditch the dispute resolution mechanism, saying Americans remember full well that former Progressive Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney considered that idea a deal breaker during the original Canada-U.S. free trade talks in 1988.

Freeland told CTV's Question Period on Sunday that the progressive chapters on labour, gender, environment and Indigenous issues are not a problem. She said the Indigenous chapter would be discussed for the first time in Montreal.

Assembly of First Nations Grand Chief Perry Bellegarde said it's about time -- he has pushed Freeland hard on the issue in recent months as part of her NAFTA advisory committee. Bellegarde told The Canadian Press he hopes the Americans and Mexicans support a chapter affirming Indigenous Peoples' inclusion in the economy.

"Canada is supporting that," he said.

"Tuesday will be the first formal response by U.S.A., Mexico to that new chapter, and so it's very important."

Today's NAFTA talks are unusual because Canada is being told it needs to give up benefits or lose access to its fundamental trading partner, said Eric Miller, head of the Rideau Potomac Strategy Group in Washington.

"Canada's economic livelihood is on the line," said Miller, a former Canadian official who worked on the auto bailout.

"One should expect Canada to be very focused on it, and to react very strongly."

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It sounds to me like Trudeau will have to decide; does Canada need a trade agreement that preserves the benefits currently enjoyed, or would the liberals prefer to take our economy right down the crapper over sjw like demands that do not belong in this sort of negotiation?

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3 minutes ago, DEFCON said:

It sounds to me like Trudeau will have to decide; does Canada need a trade agreement that preserves the benefits currently enjoyed, or would the liberals prefer to take our economy right down the crapper over sjw like demands that do not belong in this sort of negotiation?

Apparently we have now added Indigenous issues to our demands. Seems to me the Libs want to kill the deal. For some reason they seem to think they are negotiating from a position of strength when the very opposite is the case.

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As the week goes on I guess we will find out what our Minister thinks is constructive innovated bargaining. And more importantly how the US views our bargaining. 

Canada will be constructive, innovative at NAFTA negotiations: Champagne

Dominique Anglade, Francois-Philippe Champagne

Minister of International Trade and Francois-Philippe Champagne and Quebec's Minister of the Economy, Science and Innovation Dominique Anglade in Montreal on Jan. 22, 2018. (Graham Hughes / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The Canadian Press
Published Monday, January 22, 2018 1:15PM EST
Last Updated Monday, January 22, 2018 3:54PM EST

MONTREAL -- Canada intends to be constructive and innovative as the North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiations resume, the country's international trade minister said Monday.

The talks take place amid the U.S. administration's grumbling about Canada's recent sweeping complaint with the World Trade Organization about U.S. trade practices, as well as Canada's insistence on a progressive trade agenda that includes Indigenous and labour provisions.

But Francois-Philippe Champagne told reporters that from Canada's perspective, those aren't the toughest part of the talks.

"The things that have been the most difficult, it's not the progressive agenda items, whether we talk about the environment, whether we talk about labour or gender," Champagne told reporters.

"The things that are difficult were difficult at the time of Brian Mulroney, so we're talking about Chapter 19 (dispute mechanism).There are things about procurement, there are things about the sunset clause (which requires unanimous approval every five years for the agreement to continue)."

As for the trade complaint overshadowing discussions, Champagne brushed off its impact and said Canadians expect their government to be firm in its response to U.S. trade complaints.

"Canadians want us to be constructive ... Canadians expect us to be creative, but at the same time, Canadians expect us to be firm when it is about key sectors like supply management," he said.

"I think it's quite appropriate to be firm and to stand our position and to say that we can engage constructively. And between friends you can also be clear when things don't work out."

Quebec Economy Minister Dominique Anglade echoed that it was important to stand firm in the face of U.S. punitive duties on products such as softwood lumber and Bombardier jets.

"At the end of the day, we have to defend what we really believe in, and when we think something is not just, we have to go forward and say it loud and clear," she said.

Champagne and Anglade met with various Quebec stakeholders in culture, agriculture and labour as well as with representatives from employers and municipalities.

The NAFTA negotiations continue until Jan. 29.

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January 23, 2018 1:15 pm

Here’s how the TPP deal could affect NAFTA negotiations

Canada and the remaining members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreed Tuesday to a revised trade agreement without the United States.

The new Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement brings Canada into a new, sprawling trading bloc with standards not always obviously compatible with the goals of its superpower next-door neighbour.

It allows more content into automobiles from non-free-trade partners like China – at the very moment that the United States is trying to achieve the exact opposite in NAFTA, with tougher rules to keep out Chinese and other Asian parts.

WATCH: ‘Our government stood up for Canadian interests’: Trudeau on TPP deal


Canada’s chief NAFTA negotiator downplayed the effect on his work.

“It’s pretty much separate tracks,” Steve Verheul told The Canadian Press, while walking between meetings at the Montreal NAFTA round.

“It has not come up here yet – so far.”

Note the qualifier – yet.

READ MORE: Canada, remaining TPP members reach revised trade agreement without U.S.

Both supporters and detractors of the TPP pact predicted that this major liberalization of trade in auto parts with Asia will wind up at the NAFTA table somehow.

A Canadian auto-parts lobby group delivered a scathing reaction.

Flavio Volpe of Canada’s Auto Parts Manufacturers’ Association said the TPP agreement paves the way for more Chinese content in Canadian cars, at the moment Canada’s most important customer, the U.S., has made clear its goal of reducing Chinese imports.

He said it’s especially problematic in the midst of sensitive NAFTA negotiations.

“This could not be a dumber move at a more important time,” Volpe said in an interview.

He accused the government of chasing a legacy item, without regard for how it might affect the far more important NAFTA negotiations: “We’re trophy hunting.”

READ MORE: Canada, Mexico to give U.S. a hard time on bringing TPP talk to NAFTA negotiations

The U.S. buys three-quarters of Canada’s exports.

Pointing to that U.S. dependency, several defenders of the new TPP said that’s part of the rationale for seeking new alliances. One senior federal source said he believes this even helps Canada’s position at the NAFTA bargaining table, showing the U.S. that it will look elsewhere for partnerships, giving Canada greater leverage.

“It’s better than worth it. It’s advantageous,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

“The U.S. does not respect weakness.”

One person thrilled with the new 11-country Pacific pact still acknowledged it could create new headaches at the NAFTA table. Eric Miller, a Washington-based trade adviser who worked for the federal government on the 2009 auto bailout, said it will complicate monitoring of auto parts.

Expect U.S. customs officers to keep a closer eye on how much Asian, and especially Chinese, content there is in Canadian shipments, Miller predicted, adding that this will likely raise monitoring and compliance costs for companies.

It will also shape the way the three countries negotiating NAFTA design the auto-parts compliance rules, he said.

“It will certainly make things more complicated,” Miller said.

“This will certainly be a significant administrative challenge … (And) these NAFTA discussions (on autos) become all the more important.”

That being said, Miller is delighted there’s a deal. He said it’s great news for lumber exporters, and livestock producers, and many other Canadians and he believes it’s smart for Canada to diversify its trade.

“I think it’s great news for Canada and Canadian exporters,” Miller said.

“If we can maintain access to the U.S., and create new linkages with the outside world, it’s the best of both worlds … This helps to advance the cause of trade diversification … (and) I think it actually helps Canada’s leverage in NAFTA.”

Miller added: “This sends a signal: that Canada has options.”

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"Flavio Volpe of Canada’s Auto Parts Manufacturers’ Association said the TPP agreement paves the way for more Chinese content in Canadian cars, at the moment Canada’s most important customer, the U.S., has made clear its goal of reducing Chinese imports.

He said it’s especially problematic in the midst of sensitive NAFTA negotiations.

“This could not be a dumber move at a more important time,” Volpe said in an interview.

He accused the government of chasing a legacy item, without regard for how it might affect the far more important NAFTA negotiations: “We’re trophy hunting.”"


The globalists trade agenda is unfolding with the help of a Canadian simpleton. 

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Alexander Panetta, The Canadian Press
Published Saturday, January 27, 2018 12:08PM EST
Last Updated Saturday, January 27, 2018 1:17PM EST

MONTREAL -- A glimmer of optimism is emerging at NAFTA talks, with the countries starting to engage on difficult topics after months marked by finger-pointing, recriminations and threats of a U.S. withdrawal.

Several sources say the current week-long round in Montreal has been more constructive than past rounds as countries dive into a new back-and-forth about auto rules, dispute resolution, and a five-year review clause.

That's according to multiple people attending the talks -- sources from two national governments, several lawmakers from Canada and the U.S. attending the talks, as well as industry stakeholders being briefed.

"I'm always optimistic. Even more so after the meeting this morning," said Dave Reichert, the Republican chairman of a powerful U.S. congressional trade committee, after a breakfast meeting Saturday with Canadian and American officials.

"I think we're going to continue to have opportunities to learn a lot more that will hopefully lead us all to believe we'll have an end in sight."

His Democratic colleague Bill Pascrell concurred: "I'm more optimistic than I was six months ago ... I think we're in better shape than we were six months ago ... The attitude about tearing it all down -- that's changed, and we've become more positive."

The negotiations have not produced major breakthroughs this week -- just greater dialogue.

This round was viewed as a major litmus test of whether the NAFTA process has potential or is doomed to fail.

There are barely eight weeks left before the current schedule of talks expires, and U.S. President Donald Trump faces a decision soon about whether to extend the talks, pause during national elections in the U.S. and Mexico or start the process of cancelling NAFTA.

But everyone adds a note of caution. The serious engagement has just begun, none of the hard topics have been completed and negotiators are waiting to hear what U.S. trade czar Robert Lighthizer says when he attends the talks Monday.

Canada presented ideas for a new way to calculate where a car comes from in sessions between Wednesday and Friday. Sources say the Canadians proposed formulas that would inflate the American content share -- by counting not just traditional pieces, but also the cost of research and intellectual-property where the U.S. dominates.

One person familiar with the talks said the countries are now taking that basic idea and working out various models, gauging their effect on the production of parts and on their own domestic industries.

Canada also suggested an overhaul of the investor-state dispute system under Chapter 11. The Canadian proposal would arguably strengthen the system for countries wishing to keep participating, but allow the U.S. to leave if it wants.

The Trump administration had previously demanded that Chapter 11 become voluntary for countries to participate in. It views the investor-state system as an inducement for companies to outsource to Mexico, by providing additional legal security through a forum to sue for unfair treatment.

The Canadian suggestion: exclude American companies from the system, if the U.S. truly wants out.

Several people gathered in Montreal said they saw things moving in a positive direction.

"With every passing round of negotiations more and more of the contentious issues are getting closer to being solved," said Canadian Liberal MP Andrew Leslie, a parliamentary secretary for Canada-U.S. relations.

"(This process) will progress until the end of the first quarter of this year. Having said that, if there's further extensions it will have to be decided by the three parties."

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14 minutes ago, Malcolm said:

Several people gathered in Montreal said they saw things moving in a positive direction.

Is that because a whole whack of politicians was off in Davos having a good time?

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Trump-signed economics report contradicts president’s own views on trade, Canada

By Staff The Canadian Press

WATCH ABOVE: Trump says tariffs on Canadian solar panels has revived U.S. industry

U.S. President Donald Trump’s views on trade have been clobbered in a report released by the White House – and signed by none other than the president of the United States himself.

READ MORE: Donald Trump complains ‘Canada does not treat us right,’ threatens global tax

The self-rebuke includes some of his talking points about Canada.

The president regularly bemoans a trade deficit with the northern neighbour and was complaining again on Monday about Canadian trade, saying:

“We lose a lot with Canada. People don’t know it. Canada’s very smooth. They have you believe that it’s wonderful. And it is, for them. Not wonderful for us.”

But a different story is told in the newly released 2018 White House Economic Report of the President – an annual document prepared by Trump’s own team, in which Trump’s own signature appears below the introductory foreword.

It contradicts a number of trade statements and policies already articulated by Trump.

One example involves the supposed trade deficit with Canada. Trump keeps insisting it exists, but the document he signed states Canada is among the few countries in the world with whom the U.S. runs a surplus.

The documents states that in three different places. For example, it says, “All countries show a (U.S.) services surplus offsetting a goods deficit, with the U.S. running a net bilateral surplus only with Canada and the United Kingdom.”

And again: “The United States ran a trade surplus of $2.6 billion with Canada on a balance-of-payments basis.”

And once again: “The United States has free trade agreements … with a number of countries – some of which represent net trade surpluses for the United States (Canada and Singapore), and some of which represent deficits (Mexico and South Korea).State of the Union: Trump expects trade to be ‘fair and reciprocal’Trump says U.S. will no longer ‘be taken advantage of’ on trade


There’s more.

The report also contradicts the president by saying trade has helped the U.S. economy grow, that economies are shifting away from manufacturing, that foreign trade is increasingly important, that America has a good record of success in international dispute panels at the WTO, and that reworking trade agreements is no way to address a trade deficit.

READ MORE: Reality check: No, the U.S. doesn’t have a $17B trade deficit with Canada

“Trade and economic growth are strongly and positively correlated,” says the White House report.

The report does concede that trade deals create winners and losers in a country. But it says the states along the border have been the biggest winners in NAFTA. It concludes that, in general, trade creates jobs and wealth, and cites a study that every percentage point increase in trade-to-GDP ratio raises per capita income by between 0.5 and 2 per cent.


“(This) is a stunning rebuke of … the president and his trade team,” Scott Lincicome of the pro-market Cato Institute tweeted after the report was released last week.

The 563-page document was produced by Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers. He appointed the council.

Meanwhile, there are reports in U.S. media that Trump is looking to promote trade hawk Peter Navarro to a more prominent position in the White House.

© 2018 The Canadian Press

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