Trump meets Canada’s Trudeau, calls for ‘fair­ness’ in NAFTA.

Floats idea of U.S.-Canada deal if pact col­lapses

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAVE BOYER This article is based in part on wire­ser­vice re­ports.

Pres­i­dent Trump hosted Cana­dian Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau at the White House to dis­cuss the fate of the North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment Wednesday, with Mr. Trump push­ing for what he called “fair­ness” for U.S. work­ers as a crit­i­cal round of talks be­gan.

“We’ll see if we can do the kind of changes that we need,” Mr. Trump told re­porters at the White House. “We have to pro­tect our work­ers, and in all fair­ness the prime min­is­ter wants to pro­tect his peo­ple also. We have a tough ne­go­ti­a­tion.”

With ne­go­tia­tors hold­ing a fourth round of talks near Washington, the U.S. is seek­ing sev­eral ma­jor changes to NAFTA, in­clud­ing to a rule gov­ern­ing the ori­gin of car parts to avoid im­port taxes that could be dif­fi­cult for Canada and Mex­ico to ac­cept.

Mr. Trump raised the pos­si­bil­ity he would con­sider a sep­a­rate U.S.-Canada trade deal if he fol­lows through on his cam­paign pledge to ter­mi­nate NAFTA, leav­ing Mex­ico on the out­side.

Mr. Trudeau, un­der pres­sure at home to main­tain good ties with the coun­try’s largest trad­ing part­ner, took the diplo­matic route in pub­lic, telling re­porters in the Oval Of­fice the U.S. and Cana­dian “have a good part­ner­ship and there are al­ways ways to im­prove it.” He plans to visit Mex­ico City after his stop in Washington.

Mr. Trump said Canada shouldn’t fear an end to NAFTA.

“I think Justin un­der­stands this, if we can’t make a deal, it will be ter­mi­nated and that will be fine,” the pres­i­dent said. “I think it is going to work out very well for both coun­tries.”

The warm words be­tween the two lead­ers be­lied the ten­sions in the ne­go­ti­a­tions. Mr. Trump’s hard­line stance is en­coun­ter­ing re­newed re­sis­tance not only from Mex­ico and Canada but from do­mes­tic in­dus­try groups, in­clud­ing the U.S. Cham­ber of Com­merce and farm-state in­ter­ests.

Cham­ber CEO Thomas Dono­hue has pledged to fight “like hell” to de­fend NAFTA if Mr. Trump tries to pull out.

“We’ve been pa­tient, cool-headed and con­struc­tive,” Mr. Dono­hue said Tues­day in Mex­ico City. “But let me be force­ful and di­rect: There are sev­eral poi­son pill pro­pos­als still on the ta­ble that could doom the en­tire deal.”

The Cham­ber ob­jects to a “sun­set clause” Mr. Trump is seek­ing that would au­to­mat­i­cally ter­mi­nate the deal in five years with­out a new en­dorse­ment from all sides; a rule re­quir­ing a larger per­cent­age of au­to­mo­biles to be made in the U.S.; and a “buy Amer­i­can” rule lim­it­ing the size of gov­ern­ment con­tracts for Cana­dian and Mex­i­can firms.

Mex­i­can of­fi­cials are also adopt­ing in­creas­ingly tough rhetoric as the odds have risen that NAFTA could be in trou­ble.

“We have to be pre­pared to say no, and if nec­es­sary to get up from the ta­ble and if nec­es­sary leave the treaty,” Mex­i­can For­eign Re­la­tions Sec­re­tary Luis Vide­garay said Tues­day. “It would not be the end of the world.” Econ­omy Sec­re­tary Ilde­fonso Gua­jardo said the trade dis­pute may could af­fect bi­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion on im­mi­gra­tion and other is­sues.

“Clearly, Mex­ico’s will­ing­ness to col­lab­o­rate would not be as en­thu­si­as­tic if you are mis­treated on one front,” he told Mex­i­can re­porters this week. “There would no doubt be the nec­es­sary co­op­er­a­tion for our own in­ter­ests, but there wouldn’t be any vol­un­teer­ing of sup­port for things that go be­yond what our own national se­cu­rity re­quires.”

If Mr. Trump does de­cide to with­draw, there would be a manda­tory six­month wait­ing pe­riod. It’s not clear what would hap­pen after that.

Mr. Trudeau also came to dis­cuss the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s re­cent de­ci­sion to hit Cana­dian man­u­fac­turer Bom­bardier with high tar­iffs on its C-se­ries air­liner. Chicago-based Boe­ing has ac­cused Bom­bardier of re­ceiv­ing un­fair sub­si­dies from Canada and Great Bri­tain.

The prime min­is­ter met ear­lier Wednesday with House Ways and Means Com­mit­tee Chair­man Kevin Brady, Texas Repub­li­can, who said the panel is com­mit­ted to “suc­cess­ful” ne­go­ti­a­tions.

“When North Amer­ica wins, Amer­ica wins and the Amer­i­can peo­ple win as well,” Mr. Brady said.

But Mr. Brady also said that a re­vised NAFTA must ad­dress the dig­i­tal econ­omy and in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty rights, and boost market ac­cess for U.S. dairy pro­duc­ers.

The prime min­is­ter re­minded law­mak­ers of the im­por­tance of the U.S.Canada trade re­la­tion­ship.

“The U.S. sells more to Canada than it does to China, Ja­pan and the U.K. — com­bined,” Mr. Trudeau told the com­mit­tee. “We are al­ready your big­gest cus­tomer.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Pres­i­dent Trump said on Wednesday that Cana­dian Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau should not fear an end to NAFTA.

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