Trump, Trudeau raise NAFTA brinkmanship, muse about walking away from deal

Dwayne Harmon
September 7, 2018

Canada's cultural exemption was absent from the Trump administration's list of negotiating objectives released before the start of the talks.

"At three countries in North America, the economy's pretty integrated and it's pretty hard to see how that would work without Canada in the deal", Trumka said.

She said she hoped for "constructive conversations" Wednesday.

"There is good faith and good will on both sides".

U.S. Trade czar Robert Lighthizer has argued there's a legitimate case for some cultural exceptions, but that "the cultural exemption is very often just cultural protectionism".

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, speaking at an event Friday in Oshawa, brushed off a question about Trump's comments, saying that "over the past year and a half there's a lot of things that have been said from time to time".

During a brief break in the talks, Freeland emerged to say that Canada will stand up for its "national identity" in areas such as media. "And every time we have a problem with a point, I just put up a picture of a Chevrolet Impala", he said.

Others say it is Trump's insistence on some version of a sunset clause in the "new" trade deal that most undermines the sense that NAFTA was also a reliable and settled partnership. Nor had it made much of a ripple in public discussions on NAFTA, except during some testimony at a few US hearings, experts say.

President Donald Trump may be insisting that the US will be "better off" without a North American free trade deal that includes Canada, but American unions do not agree-and neither does the tech industry. "And we know we have a president who doesn't always follow the rules as they're laid out", Trudeau said.

"I'm not blaming Canada.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Surrey B.C. Tuesday Sept. 4
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Surrey B.C. Tuesday Sept. 4

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

Lawrence Herman, an worldwide trade counsel, said it prevents USA takeovers, restricts US ownership and ensures Canadian artists - such as authors, actors and musicians - get certain preferences.

Perhaps more than anything else, it is Trump's stated willingness to conclude a bilateral deal with Mexico that leaves Canada out that alarms supporters of the North American partnership.

Canada wants a permanent exemption from President Donald Trump's steel and aluminum tariffs and the threat of auto tariffs to be removed.

The U.S. and Mexico reached a side deal last month, leaving Canada to negotiate separately with the U.S. "We need a dispute resolution mechanism like Chapter 19 and we will hold firm on that".

"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.

Trump then said Canada had until Friday to climb on board-a significant date because Congress needs 90 days' notification to approve a new NAFTA, and Mexico gets a new president at the start of December.

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

The dispute over the new U.S. -Mexico trade deal looks set to continue with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau trying to play hardball in the face of conservative criticism.

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.

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