‘3 Ami­gos’ will re­vise NAFTA, says Free­land

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - LINDA NGUYEN

TORONTO — All three NAFTA mem­bers — the 3 Ami­gos — will be at the ta­ble when­ever talks to re­vise the trade deal get un­der­way, For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Chrys­tia Free­land said Tues­day amid con­cerns that Mex­ico could be given short shrift.

Free­land stressed the im­por­tance of the tri­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship be­tween Canada, Mex­ico and the U.S. as the three coun­tries pre­pare to ne­go­ti­ate changes to the North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment.

“There is no ne­go­ti­a­tion process yet. In fact, the United States does not yet have a team in place that could even be­gin those ne­go­ti­a­tions, so let’s not put the cart be­fore the horse,” Free­land told a panel that in­cluded her Mex­i­can coun­ter­part, Luis Vide­garay, at the Cana­dian Coun­cil for the Amer­i­cas.

“But we very much rec­og­nize that NAFTA is a three-coun­try agree­ment and were there to be any ne­go­ti­a­tions, those would be three­way ne­go­ti­a­tions.”

Some have ex­pressed con­cerns that Mex­ico could end up los­ing un­der a rene­go­ti­ated NAFTA, given U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s in­tent to cut Amer­ica’s trade deficit with that coun­try.

Those wor­ries were am­pli­fied last week when, af­ter meet­ing Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau, Trump said he only wanted to “tweak” his coun­try’s trade re­la­tion­ship with Canada while look­ing for more ma­jor changes to U.S.-Mex­i­can trade ties.

Speak­ing at the Cana­dian Coun­cil for the Amer­i­cas event, for­mer prime min­is­ter Brian Mul­roney said he doesn’t be­lieve Ot­tawa will throw Mex­ico “un­der the bus,” as some have sug­gested.

“This un­der the bus stuff is for losers, not for win­ners, and Canada is a win­ner,” Mul­roney said.

Mul­roney, one of the ar­chi­tects of NAFTA, said Canada may face a “rough ne­go­ti­a­tion” but he be­lieves the coun­try will emerge with bet­ter re­la­tion­ships with the U.S. and Mex­ico in the end.

“We’re go­ing to come out of this in one piece — with a strong NAFTA and a strong bi­lat­eral and tri­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship,” he told the crowd in Toronto.

Two tough is­sues for Canada dur­ing NAFTA dis­cus­sions with the U.S. will be pro­vi­sions gov­ern­ing trade dis­pute set­tle­ment and rules of ori­gin, Mul­roney added.

Trump has called NAFTA the worst trade deal the U.S. has ever ne­go­ti­ated.

Mul­roney, who has been friends and neigh­bours with Trump in Palm Beach, Fla., for years, said he be­lieved Canada’s case “was ad­vanced enor­mously” by Trudeau’s meet­ing with the pres­i­dent.

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