Carr, Lighthizer take a pass on g20 trade min­is­ters meet­ing in ar­gentina

North Bay Nugget - - NATIONAL NEWS - Mike Blanch­field

ot­tawa — Canada’s new in­ter­na­tional trade min­is­ter is tak­ing a pass on a meet­ing of his g20 coun­ter­parts in ar­gentina on Fri­day.

Jim Carr was re­cently shuf­fled into the port­fo­lio with the main pur­pose of di­ver­si­fy­ing Canada’s eco­nomic re­la­tions with coun­tries other than the united States, its largest trad­ing part­ner.

the g20 in­cludes China, in­dia and brazil — coun­tries that Canada is keen to ex­pand eco­nomic ties with.

Carr’s spokesman says the min­is­ter will at­tend an event in his home prov­ince of manitoba on Fri­day, and that Canada will be rep­re­sented at the g20 meet­ing by Canada’s deputy min­is­ter for in­ter­na­tional trade.

Carr will be in Winnipeg to an­nounce the start of re­pairs of the rail­way line that runs to Churchill, man. Sec­tions of track were washed out dur­ing a may 2017 flood, wip­ing out the only land link to the town on hud­son bay.

Carr’s ab­sence from Fri­day’s g20 gath­er­ing does not di­min­ish Canada’s com­mit­ment to the group or the in­ter­na­tional trad­ing sys­tem, said spokesman Joe pick­er­ill.

“We ab­so­lutely be­lieve in the rules-based sys­tem, the in­ter­na­tional trad­ing or­der on which we’ve de­pended for our pros­per­ity for decades,” said pick­er­ill.

he pointed to the fact Carr will host a small group trade min­is­ters, many of whom are g20 mem­bers, next month in ot­tawa to dis­cuss much needed re­forms to the World trade or­ga­ni­za­tion.

the agenda is still be­ing crafted, but gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials said min­is­ters from aus­tralia, brazil, Chile, Ja­pan,kenya,southko­rea,mex­ico, New Zealand, Nor­way, Sin­ga­pore, Switzer­land and the euro­pean union have been in­vited.

robert Lighthizer, the u.s. trade rep­re­sen­ta­tive, will also be ab­sent from the gath­er­ing of g20 trade min­is­ters on Fri­day.

that has fu­elled spec­u­la­tion that Lighthizer might be hold­ing his sched­ule open for a re­turn visit to Wash­ing­ton by For­eign af­fairs min­is­ter Chrys­tia Free­land, his po­lit­i­cal coun­ter­part in the on­go­ing rene­go­ti­a­tion of the North amer­i­can Free trade agree­ment.

Cana­dian and amer­i­can ne­go­tia­tors con­tin­ued their talks thurs­day af­ter Free­land’s lat­est visit to Wash­ing­ton on tues­day.

Free­land briefed prime min­is­ter Justin trudeau on the state of the Nafta talks at the Lib­eral cau­cus re­treat in Saska­toon on Wed­nes­day.

af­ter­wards, she said lead ne­go­tia­tor Steve Ver­heul and david mac­naughton, Canada’s am­bas­sador to the united States, would re­turn to Wash­ing­ton to re­sume ne­go­ti­a­tions.

the g20 lead­ers’ sum­mit is set for later this fall in buenos aires.

a lead­ing in­ter­na­tional af­fairs an­a­lyst said it is not nec­es­sar­ily a bad thing that Carr and Lighthizer de­cided to skip Fri­day’s g20 min­is­te­rial meet­ing.

the g20’s rel­e­vance and im­por­tance has been fad­ing over time since its cre­ation a decade ago to deal with the great re­ces­sion of 2008-09, said Fen hamp­son, a global pol­icy ex­pert with the Cen­tre for in­ter­na­tional gov­er­nance in­no­va­tion in Water­loo, ont.

“it un­der­scores the di­min­ish­ing rel­e­vance of the g20 as an in­sti­tu­tion,” he said.

trudeau said thurs­day the gov­ern­ment planned to pass leg­is­la­tion this fall al­low­ing Canada to join the re-booted trans-pa­cific part­ner­ship that in­cludes 10 other pa­cific rim coun­tries.

u.s. pres­i­dent don­ald trump with­drew his coun­try from the orig­i­nal tpp in Jan­uary 2017.

Justin tang/the CANA­DIAN PRESS

Min­is­ter of Nat­u­ral Re­sources Jim Carr speaks to re­porters fol­low­ing Ques­tion Pe­riod in the House of Com­mons on Par­lia­ment Hill in Ot­tawa in May. Canada’s new in­ter­na­tional trade min­is­ter is tak­ing a pass on a meet­ing of his G20 coun­ter­parts in Ar­gentina on Fri­day. Jim Carr was re­cently shuf­fled into the port­fo­lio with the main pur­pose of di­ver­si­fy­ing Canada’s eco­nomic re­la­tions with coun­tries other than the United States, its largest trad­ing part­ner.

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