All hands on deck are needed to get a good NAFTA deal

May 17, 2018

By all accounts, the NAFTA renegotiation efforts have stalled during this make or break week and that is not good news for Canada and our economy. Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland has been spending a lot of time in Washington for top-level talks to try and reach an agreement-in-principle but it is looking more and more like such an agreement this month may not be possible. That is because negotiations will have to break sooner rather than later due to the upcoming Mexican presidential election on July 1st, followed by the U.S. midterm elections on November 6th. It was widely speculated that a no-deal by May would likely mean negotiations would linger beyond the fall.

I will be in Washington myself over the next two weeks to take meetings with American legislators and business groups as I travel with the Canada-U.S. Interparliamentary Group and the House of Commons Committee on International Trade. I expect to hear disappointment from all sides that an agreement could not be reached before now and I hope to hear from the Americans that they understand what a big deal this is for their own economy as well as ours.

Canada and the United States are the world’s largest trading partners and NAFTA has created hundreds of thousands of high-paying jobs in our country. Likewise, in the U.S., approximately 9 million jobs there depend on trade with Canada. We are the top trading partner for more than 30 of the 50 U.S. states and over $2 billion in trade crosses our shared national border each and every day. A no deal on NAFTA affects U.S. farmers, producers and manufacturers just as much as it affects us.

That is the message that I will continue to take down with me during my upcoming visits to Washington.

I and my Conservative colleagues have always been champions of free trade and we have been working collaboratively with the Liberal government towards building a positive working relationship with the U.S. for the protection of Canadian jobs. The stakes are simply too high for domestic politics here in Canada to ruin our chances at getting a good deal for Canadian exporters.

We will continue to encourage the government to work diligently with the U.S. and Mexico to preserve the benefits of NAFTA for North America and I will also continue to join with my government colleagues in engaging Congress and cross-border business associations to remind them about the importance of the deal for America’s prosperity.

Canadian businesses and our investment climate are suffering due to the uncertainty surrounding the NAFTA negotiations. All hands on deck are needed to get a good deal for Canada as soon as possible.

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