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Canada Responds To Launch Of US NAFTA Consultations

by Mike Godfrey,, Washington Friday, May 19, 2017

Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister has reiterated the Government's commitment to NAFTA following the US Administration's launch of consultations on its renegotiation.

Chrystia Freeland said: "We are at an important juncture that offers us an opportunity to determine how we can best align NAFTA to new realities – and integrate progressive, free, and fair approaches to trade and investment. We are steadfastly committed to free trade in the North American region and to ensuring that the benefits of trade are enjoyed by all Canadians."

On May 18, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer notified Congress that President Trump intends to renegotiate NAFA. The US expects negotiations to begin no earlier than August 16.

Lighthizer said that his office "will now continue consultations with Congress and American stakeholders to create an agreement that advances the interests of America's workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses." It will also publish a notice in the Federal Register requesting public input on the negotiations.

Freeland noted that the US Administration's formal announcement is required by Congress, and that the three-month notice period "has long been anticipated and is specifically a part of the US domestic process."

Freeland said that, together with colleagues, she has in recent months been listening to Canadians' opinions on NAFTA, and will continue to consult on the issue. "This will enable us to assess what matters most to Canadians and to advance our interests," she explained.

Freeland stressed that "NAFTA's track record is one of economic growth and middle-class job creation, both here in Canada and throughout North America."

"Nine million American jobs depend on trade and investment with Canada. Our integrated economies and supply chains support millions of jobs across the continent."

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said he looks forward to working with Trump, Lighthizer, and their counterparts in Canada and Mexico, "to find a solution that is both fair and beneficial for all parties."

He also alleged that "Since the signing of NAFTA, we have seen our manufacturing industry decimated, factories shuttered, and countless workers left jobless."

"President Trump is going to change that," he said.

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