Cana­dian en­voy down­play­ing talk of po­ten­tial rift with the U.S.

Truro Daily News - - CANADA -

Ot­tawa’s en­voy to Wash­ing­ton down­played talk of grow­ing trade ir­ri­tants with the U.S., a day af­ter Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump sharply crit­i­cized Canada’s well-guarded dairy sec­tor.

Am­bas­sador David MacNaughton says de­spite some U.S. rhetoric – and his own re­but­tal let­ter re­leased Tues­day – he still ex­pects there will be “con­struc­tive dis­cus­sions” be­tween the two coun­tries be­cause so many jobs on both sides of the border de­pend on trade.

Af­ter a meet­ing Wed­nes­day with the Nova Sco­tia cab­i­net, MacNaughton said up­com­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions around re­vamp­ing NAFTA won’t be easy, but the process will work out “just fine” in the end.

He did not ad­dress Trump’s com­ments di­rectly, and avoided ques­tions about whether they sig­nal the on­set of a cross-border trade war.

“All I can tell you is I’ve had on­go­ing dis­cus­sions with the White House ... and all of those dis­cus­sions have been pos­i­tive and pro­fes­sional – they’ve been ex­tremely re­spon­sive,” said MacNaughton.

“Our re­la­tion­ship with the U.S. ad­min­is­tra­tion is ex­tremely strong and I think it’s go­ing to pay div­i­dends in the long run.”

In the mean­time, MacNaughton said Canada needs to be pre­pared on ev­ery sin­gle is­sue when it comes to cross-border trade and shouldn’t iso­late any one sec­tor.

“We’ve had a tough time on soft­wood lum­ber for 30 years. I’m sure we’ll hear lots about dairy and we’ll hear lots about other things and I’m sure there will be a lot of things that we will want to talk to them about too.”

Trump called out Canada by Cana­dian am­bas­sador to the U.S. David MacNaughton down­played talk of grow­ing trade ir­ri­tants a day af­ter Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump sharply crit­i­cized Canada’s well-guarded dairy sec­tor.

name Tues­day amid a brew­ing trade spat that has seen the U.S. dairy lobby ac­cuse Canada of “sys­temic dis­re­gard” of its trade obli­ga­tions.

Trump also sig­nalled he wants to do more than sim­ply tweak the North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment, say­ing he is look­ing for “very big changes” to the tri­lat­eral pact that in­cludes Mex­ico, or else he will scrap it once and for all.

MacNaughton said his in­tent with the let­ter was to cor­rect the record fol­low­ing a let­ter crit­i­cal of Canada’s sup­ply-man­age­ment dairy sys­tem from the gov­er­nors of Wis­con­sin and New York. He said both he and Ot­tawa would con­tinue to speak out for Cana­dian in­ter­ests when nec­es­sary, and ex­pects U.S. politi­cians to do the same.

“They (gov­er­nors) want to be seen to be stand­ing up for their dairy farm­ers and I think the Gov­ern­ment of Canada wants to be seen to be stand­ing up for its dairy farm­ers,” he said.

MacNaughton said it re­mains

to be seen how quickly NAFTA talks can get un­der­way be­cause of a loom­ing elec­tion in Mex­ico, and the fact the U.S. Congress still hasn’t granted ne­go­ti­at­ing author­ity to the Depart­ment of Com­merce.

He said he ex­pects three-way talks on the trade agree­ment, but said there would be a num­ber of on­go­ing bi­lat­eral talks on is­sues that af­fect Canada and the U.S., but not Mex­ico.

“I would like to see it hap­pen quickly, just be­cause I think to re­move the un­cer­tainty for the busi­ness com­mu­nity would be help­ful,” said MacNaughton.

Nova Sco­tia Pre­mier Stephen McNeil said the At­lantic prov­inces have built a good trad­ing re­la­tion­ship with the New Eng­land states and he ex­pects that will con­tinue de­spite some of the “noise” com­ing from south of the border.

“Ul­ti­mately gov­er­nors and peo­ple in the states rec­og­nize the im­por­tance of our re­la­tion­ship and that it’s two-way, and we are go­ing to con­tinue to build on that,” McNeil said. Tick­ets avail­able at McQuar­rie’s Phar­masave & The Marigold Cul­tural Cen­tre, or from any Tick­et­pro out­let in At­lantic Canada. or toll free

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