Wednesday, 26 September, 2018

U.S., Canada slug it out as deadline looms to clinch NAFTA

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Cristina Norman | 14 September, 2018, 13:23

"In some countries, including Canada, a tax on cars would be the ruination of the country".

"Even Canadian concessions on dairy may not be enough to make the us keep the current dispute resolutions", said Carlos Capistran and Mingzi Yi, economists at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, in a note.

"To me, a lot of that is consistent with my suspicion that the US doesn't really want to get a deal [or] at least the [Trump] administration doesn't", he said, citing the leaked off-the-record comments Mr. Trump gave Bloomberg in late August when he said he was refusing to compromise with Canada and that any deal with Canada would be "totally on our terms".

Trump almost tore up the NAFTA pact a year ago after visiting farmers in Wisconsin, a major US dairy producer that Washington says has been hurt by Canadian protectionism.

"The atmosphere continues to be cordial, there continues to be goodwill on both sides", said Freeland, who said she made sure the significance of Tuesday's date was not lost on her American counterpart, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

"For this government to go out and be seen as giving too much to the American side on agriculture, and dairy in particular, would be ... nearly suicidal politically", Charest said.

US President Donald Trump also said the talks, which both countries intensified in recent weeks, were coming along well. "And if we don't sign the deal, it's because no deal is actually better than a bad deal for Canada". But as an October 1 deadline to renegotiate NAFTA looms, Canada is prepared to offer similar concessions on the dairy industry to those that it agreed to in free trade deals with the European Union and Pacific Rim nations, the sources said.

"There is not going to be a deal - period - unless there is a compromise in that area because that is what he campaigned on and it's stuck to him and he's stuck with it", Mulroney said.

In Michigan, 259,000 jobs depend on trade and investment with Canada, the study said.

"It seems even if we give a lot, the USA keeps asking for more", said Mr. Kronby, an worldwide trade lawyer with Borden Ladner Gervais.

"We've taken those hits for team Canada, and we are determined that there be no further concessions on dairy", said David Wiens, vice president of the Dairy Farmers of Canada.

At the White House, Trump told reporters Canada wanted a deal "very much" and that talks were "coming along well".

"Clifford Sosnow, a Canadian trade lawyer based in Ottawa, said the talks are happening on two levels, one behind the scenes where the hard work is happening and the other where the politicking, the spinning and the hurling of insults" is happening. "They're really hammering this out", said Orr, who is now senior worldwide trade adviser for a Washington law firm.

What should Canada do at the NAFTA negotiating table?

Trudeau, for his part, added that: "we're just going to stay working constructively to get to that win-win-win that we know is there".

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