TPP talk won’t aid NAFTA
CANADA AND MEXICO COLD TO U.S. USING TPP TO MAKE PROGRESS IN NAFTA
As NAFTA negotiations resume this week, Canada and Mexico have been taking a hard line against the so-called “poison pills” the U.S. has put forward during their increasingly acrimonious talks.
But sources say the two countries plan to give the Trump administration a rough ride in an area that hardly seems contentious: language from the original TransPacific Partnership.
Canada and Mexico, the sources say, are in no hurry to adopt the significant portions of TPP text that American negotiators have brought to the NAFTA table.
President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the massive 12-country Pacific Rim trade deal in January, but that hasn’t stopped the U.S. from using it as a template to bring the 23-year-old NAFTA into the 21st century, updating it for the digital age and ecommerce.
The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity surrounding the NAFTA talks, say Canada has no incentive to give the U.S. an easy win on the proposed TPP boilerplate.
That’s because the U.S. has been putting forward untenable positions — the so-called non-starter “poison pills” in a five key areas — that some observers have suggested are designed to sabotage the talks and kill NAFTA outright.
“We don’t want to give it for free,” said one source. “They wanted out (of the TPP) and now they want it for free.”
Another source said each specific American proposal is being examined on its merits, and that nothing will be rubber-stamped just because something may have been agreed to under the TPP, to which all three countries originally agreed.
It all boils down to a timehonoured principle of negotiating, the source said: if one party wants a concession in one area, they have to be willing to pay for it elsewhere.
That suggests that if the U.S. is seeking an easy win on TPP-related issues, it might have to concede in other contentious areas that Canada and Mexico find objectionable.
Sources characterized that approach as a response to the poison-pill proposals — increasing American content in automobiles, attacking Canada’s supply management system for agriculture, establishing a five-year sunset clause, doing away with a dispute settlement mechanism and reducing Mexican and Canadian access to bidding on U.S. procurement projects.
Sources say no progress is expected to be made on those fronts during the fifth round of talks, which get underway in Mexico starting today.