SUPPORT US

In The Media

Contentious issues lie ahead as Ottawa NAFTA talks end

by Tonda MacCharles & Bruce Campion-Smith (feat. Eric Miller)

Toronto Star
Sept 27, 2017

OTTAWA—Trade ministers from Mexico, Canada and the United States touted progress at the NAFTA re-negotiating table Wednesday, but admitted they have yet to tackle the make-or-break issues at the heart of a new trade deal.

As the third round of talks wrapped up Wednesday, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, Ildefonso Guajardo, Mexico’s Secretary of Economy, and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer all cautioned that the tough challenges still lie ahead.

Guajardo said while it had been a “highly productive round,” there were clear “differences,” and further progress depended on the willingness of the United States to table specific proposals of what it is seeking in many areas.

“As negotiations move forward, it is important that we have the will to table positions that encourage constructive discussions and programatic solutions, he said. “For the next round in D.C. we will have substantial challenges to overcome.”

Freeland, for her part, said Canada was up against an “unconventional” U.S. administration that is “overtly protectionist” and has pushed an America-First agenda since the 2016 election that saw President Donald Trump elected.

The U.S. has not clarified specifically what it wants to see in a modernized NAFTA in several “potentially most difficult areas,” said Freeland, noting that without formal positions on the table, Canada cannot respond.

Those key areas of dispute where the Americans have tabled no specifics include:

  • rules of origin, which the U.S. wants to change to require higher American-made content for duty-free movement of auto vehicles and parts. Canada and Mexico want to retain the current 62.5-per-cent requirement for North American-sourced content.
  • dispute settlement mechanisms. The U.S. wants to eliminate the use of binding arbitration panels, and use domestic courts, instead, to resolve state-to-state disputes over anti-dumping or countervailing duties. This is NAFTA’s Chapter 19. It is in theory a deal breaker for Canada and Mexico, but Canada has proposed setting up permanent professional tribunals as the key referee. Another dispute mechanism to resolve disagreements in cases where government regulations or law harm the commercial or trade interests of international investors is also in play at the talks, and the U.S. has proposed no specific text on Chapter 11 either.
  • supply-managed agriculture sectors. The U.S. has taken aim at Canada’s dairy markets, complaining that its supply-management system, which restricts U.S. producers’ access to consumers, is unfair. But the Americans haven’t outlined their specific demand here.

Freeland also pushed back at Trump’s “Buy-American-Hire-American” agenda on government procurement contracts, saying “mutual access” was achieved in the Canada-European Union trade deal, and should be achievable within the NAFTA re-negotiation talks. She wants Canadian companies to be able to bid on sub-national procurement contracts at the state and municipal level.

Negotiating teams finalized one section devoted to concerns of small and medium-sized businesses, expect to finish the section on competition in the coming days and advanced discussions on other areas, such as digital trade, telecoms, digital trade, good regulatory practice, and customs and trade facilitation, according to a statement by all three ministers.

The fact that the U.S. has yet to reveal its position on some issues, or set out unreasonably tough expectations on others, sparked questions about Washington’s intentions.

But Freeland said she believed the U.S. was bargaining in good faith, that no party was deliberately slowing the pace, and more progress could be made before the next round begins in Washington Oct. 11.

Lighthizer said that talks are proceeding at an “unprecedented pace,” but he admitted, “There is an enormous amount of work to be done, including some very difficult and contentious issues.”

He reiterated Washington’s agenda is to reduce the U.S. trade deficit and invigorate American industry and ensures “reciprocal market access for American farmers, ranchers and businesses.”

Conservative foreign affairs critic Erin O’Toole questioned the Liberals’ strategy of introducing issues such as gender and Indigenous chapters into the talks from the beginning and failing to “champion” sectors such as the auto industry.

“I’d say we’ve had three rounds of positive discussions, but no progress.

“Three rounds show that, perhaps, the strategy of putting up the so-called ‘progressive agenda’ hasn’t produce results on that, but it certainly hasn’t let them get to the rules-of-origin issue.”


Showing 1 reaction

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
  • followed this page 2017-09-28 20:25:11 -0400
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTERS
 
UPCOMING EVENTS

CONFERENCE
Annual Defence Procurement Conference

Ottawa, Ontario

October 25, 2022

SEARCH
EXPERTS IN THE MEDIA

Oil: Forget Year-End Forecast Of $65; Will We Get To $85 Soon?

by Barani Krishnan (feat. Amrita Sen), Investing.com, July 6, 2022

Russia Ukraine Update

by David Gray and Angela Knight (feat. Colin Robertson), CBC Radio One, July 6, 2022

Arctic waters have always been in Russia's interest

by Bloomberg Commodities Staff (feat. Rob Huebert), BNNB, July 6, 2022

Canada’s Approach to the Indo-Pacific

by Deanna Morton (feat. Jonathan Fried and Meredith Lily), CPAC, May 10, 2022

Oil to Remain Above $80 Even With a Recession

by Business Desk (feat. Amrita Sen), Global Herald, July 5, 2022

Sweden, Finland entry to NATO ‘not done deal,’

by Heather Hiscox (feat. Andrew Rasiulis), CBC News, July 5, 2022

Exclusive-China plans $75 billion infrastructure fund to revive economy

by Xiangming Hou and Kevin Yao (feat. Amrita Sen), Reuters, July 4, 2022

À long terme, l’avantage est toujours à la Russie

by Violette Cantin (feat. Ferry de Kerckhove), Le Devoire, July 4, 2022

Pan-Canadian Policy Table

by Alain Gravel (feat. Jean-Christophe Boucher), Ici Radio Canada, July 2, 2022

La place du Canada sur la scène internationale

by Hugo Lavoie (feat. Jocelyn Coulon), Tout un Matin, July 1, 2022


LATEST TWEETS

HEAD OFFICE
Canadian Global Affairs Institute
Suite 1800, 150–9th Avenue SW
Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2P 3H9

 

OTTAWA OFFICE
Canadian Global Affairs Institute
8 York Street, 2nd Floor
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1N 5S6

 

Phone: (613) 288-2529
Email: [email protected]
Web: cgai.ca

 

Making sense of our complex world.
Déchiffrer la complexité de notre monde.

 

© 2002-2022 Canadian Global Affairs Institute
Charitable Registration No. 87982 7913 RR0001

 


Sign in with Facebook | Sign in with Twitter | Sign in with Email