“WE ARE CLOSE” Canada launches multi-front push for a quick NAFTA deal

The Standard (St. Catharines) - - Front Page - ALEXAN­DER PANETTA

WASH­ING­TON — Canada launched a multi-front push for a quick NAFTA deal Thurs­day, vow­ing to keep work­ing de­spite a fail­ure to com­plete ne­go­ti­a­tions in time to meet a po­lit­i­cally sig­nif­i­cant tar­get date.

In meet­ings in Wash­ing­ton and New York, at the White House and in other gov­ern­ment build­ings, Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau, Foreign Af­fairs Min­is­ter Chrys­tia Free­land, and sev­eral top gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials kept pur­su­ing a con­clu­sion.

They urged their Amer­i­can col­leagues to plow ahead even if it’s po­ten­tially too late af­ter this week to meet the pro­ce­dural dead­lines for a vote on a deal un­der the cur­rent U.S. Congress this year.

“We’ll keep work­ing until they shut off the lights,” Trudeau told re­porters in New York.

“We are close to a deal.”

The Cana­dian gov­ern­ment’s view is that the agree­ment al­ready on the ta­ble might not sat­isfy all Amer­i­can de­mands but would make a real difference in the cru­cial auto in­dus­try, and up­grade nu­mer­ous other chap­ters.

Trudeau ad­mit­ted to be­ing un­sure whether a deal will take days, weeks, or be put off in­def­i­nitely.

But a pub­lic rift with Mex­ico il­lus­trated the com­plex­ity of the talks. The Mex­i­can gov­ern­ment scolded the prime min­is­ter over one el­e­ment of the sales pitch he de­liv­ered in New York: Trudeau ar­gued that the au­tos changes would send some Mex­i­can jobs back to the U.S.

In the midst of a pres­i­den­tial elec­tion campaign in that coun­try, and fac­ing its own po­lit­i­cal pres­sures at home, the Mex­i­can gov­ern­ment pub­licly chal­lenged Canada’s prime min­is­ter.

“A clar­i­fi­ca­tion is nec­es­sary,” Mex­ico’s econ­omy min­is­ter, Ilde­fonso Gua­jardo, tweeted. “Any rene­go­ti­ated NAFTA that im­plies losses of ex­ist­ing Mex­i­can jobs is un­ac­cept­able.”

Any fail­ure to get a deal im­me­di­ately would make it im­pos­si­ble to vote on a deal this year in the U.S. Congress, mean­ing more busi­ness and po­lit­i­cal un­cer­tainty, as many cur­rent politi­cians in Mex­ico and the U.S. will no longer be in of­fice next year.

Top U.S. law­maker Paul Ryan had de­clared Thurs­day as the last date for meet­ing the pro­ce­dural dead­lines for a vote this year. On Thurs­day, he re­vised that slightly.

Ryan clar­i­fied that if the in­de­pen­dent body in the U.S. tasked with an­a­lyz­ing trade deals man­aged to as­sess the new NAFTA faster than legally re­quired, then in the­ory an agree­ment could still get to the floor for a vote in this Congress.

In New York, Trudeau made his case dur­ing a pub­lic event on the Fox Busi­ness chan­nel and in a pri­vate meet­ing with an eco­nomic ad­viser to Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

In Wash­ing­ton, se­nior Cana­dian staff held meet­ings at the White House on Thurs­day morn­ing.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.