Op­po­si­tion grows to Trump’s hard­line stance

Ottawa Sun - - NEWS - — Washington Post Wire Ser­vices

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s trade ne­go­tia­tors en­ter the lat­est round of NAFTA talks un­der grow­ing pres­sure in­side the U.S. to step back from a con­fronta­tional stance that’s left the coun­try iso­lated at the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble.

The fourth round of talks to up­date the North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment be­gan Wed­nes­day in the Washington area. On the eve of talks, the top U.S. busi­ness group pledged to fight to pre­serve the pact, while a con­gres­sional com­mit­tee said it was com­mit­ted to suc­cess­ful talks and Mex­ico sig­naled it can live with­out the ac­cord.

“There is life after NAFTA,” Mex­i­can Econ­omy Min­is­ter Ilde­fonso Gua­jardo said Tues­day in an in­ter­view with Ra­dio For­mula.

Mex­ico could leave NAFTA and have the strength to move on with­out any se­ri­ous longterm struc­tural dam­age to the econ­omy, he said.

Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau has stead­fastly struck an op­ti­mistic tone as his for­eign min­is­ter be­gins to dampen ex­pec­ta­tions for a quick deal .

U.S. Trade Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Robert Lighthizer kicked off the lat­est round by an­nounc­ing an agree­ment on a chap­ter on com­pe­ti­tion. The coun­tries For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Chrys­tia Free­land and Rep. Kevin Brady lis­ten to Trudeau yes­ter­day in Washington. have agreed to in­creased “pro­ce­dural fair­ness in com­pe­ti­tion law en­force­ment,” his of­fice said. It’s the sec­ond topic to be agreed on along with the chap­ter on small- and medium-sized busi­nesses.

“Thus far, we have made good progress, and I look for­ward to sev­eral days of hard work,” Lighthizer said.

Trudeau and For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Chrys­tia Free­land met with the House Ways and Means Com­mit­tee in Washington Wed­nes­day, with Chair­man Kevin Brady, R-Texas, say­ing the com­mit­tee was ded­i­cated to “suc­cess­ful” ne­go­ti­a­tions. “When North Amer­ica wins, Amer­ica wins and the Amer­i­can peo­ple win as well.”

NAFTA must ac­count for the dig­i­tal econ­omy, make progress on cus­toms rules, in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty pro­tec­tions and boost mar­ket ac­cess for U.S. dairy pro­duc­ers, Brady said.

DREW ANGERER/GETTY IM­AGES

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