Nault on NAFTA
Kenora MP’s trip focused on future of NAFTA and maintaining partnerships
Kenora MP Bob Nault talks NAFTA in U.S.A.
Renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) won’t be a quick, haphazard process done on social media despite what certain world leaders may appear to want, according to Kenora Liberal MP Bob Nault.
The member of parliament representing Kenora also serves as head of the foreign affairs committee and just returned from a whirlwind week of talks about NAFTA, Canada’s future on the prestigious United Nations Security Council and the mood of what Americans, outside of Donald Trump’s tweets, really want. Nault hasn’t hid his disdain for Trump’s methods in renegotiating NAFTA and in his opinion Canada needs to out-wait the U.S. President to secure the best deal possible.
“I’ve been pushing very hard to convince the government that we should not have a strategy that tries to fast track NAFTA,” said Nault when he was in Kenora on Friday, Nov. 3. “We should go back to negotiating under normal circumstances and there’s no real reason for us to go fast, that’s Trump’s agenda because he’s trying to put some pressure on everybody by saying he’s going to cancel it.
Before Trump even set foot in the White House, Canada was already forging bonds with U.S. politicians, state and business leaders, to work around the controversial new president.
“Our team should just push back [against Trump] and say it takes a lot of time to do all of these chapters,” said Nault referring to the number of NAFTA topics that need to be negotiated. “There are 22 tables right now and it’s a lot of work. We have some tables that have concluded, things like e-commerce and small business chapters so we’re making some progress but, I think we should reduce the temperature a little bit and get back to a good discussion.”
That’s what Nault’s trip to Mexico City, New York City and Washington D.C. was about talking with people and sorting out the fact from fiction. Unlike Canadians and Mexicans, Nault said NAFTA is not high on the agenda at Capital Hill right now, as tax reform and Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation into the 2016 U.S. Presidential election. Nault was in Washington D.C. the same week former Trump campaign advisor Paul Manafort was placed under house arrest and criminal charges brought against him.
Nault did say he received a positive vibe about NAFTA talking with congressional representatives and senators on Capital Hill.
“I would say every single person we met believes strongly that NAFTA will be renegotiated and will survive and will do what it’s been doing,’ said Nault adding it’ll be congress and the senate who will pass it through.
“What I enjoyed about taking our foreign affairs department into places like Washington and Mexico City is you hear firsthand what people’s perception is and it’s very different sometimes than what Canadians think is going on,” added Nault. “I came back with a little bit more enthusiasm that things are going to work out in the end and not as concerned as I might’ve been months ago at the sort of unorthodox style of the president. But at the same time I think we have to keep our negotiators working very hard. Many of us have been down into Washington on a regular basis and we’ll keep doing that.”
During his visit to Mexico City, Nault said he reassured the third party of the NAFTA negotiation that Canada stands by and supports Mexico’s continued involvement, despite tweets that indicate certain folks would like to cut Mexico out.
“They asked very bluntly whether Canada was going to stick with it or walk away and do a bilateral agreement with the U.S.,” said Nault about his meetings in Mexico. “We confirmed what our government has been saying all along at the negotiating table - it’s good business to have Mexico as part of the deal.”
NAFTA came into affect on Jan. 1, 1994 and has two parts: the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (NAAEC) and the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation (NAALC). Shortly after moving into the White House in January 2017, Trump announced his intention to renegotiate the NAFTA pact to fix some of the areas that have caused disputes in the past between the three trade partners.
Kenora MP Bob Nault stopped in his hometown Friday, Nov. 3 after a busy month of visiting Mexico, New York and Washington D.C. as head of the foreign affairs committee.