Canada signaled Monday that it would not give much, if any, ground on the benefits it provides to domestic industries when it joins the U.S. and Mexico to begin renegotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement this week. A key issue for the U.S. is getting Canada to stop policies that boost its dairy, poultry, and timber industries.
Canada will uphold and preserve the elements in NAFTA that Canadians deem key to our national interest – including a process to ensure anti-dumping and countervailing duties are only applied fairly when truly warranted, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said in a speech Monday at the University of Ottawa.
Freeland noted that Canada had walked away from bilateral talks with the U.S. in 1987 over some of the same issues. Our government will be equally resolute this time, she said. Freeland later declined to directly answer reporters' questions on whether maintaining those policies was a make-or-break issue for Canada.
U.S. industries, especially dairy and poultry, have long sought the end of Canada's tariffs on both of those products, neither of which was covered by the original NAFTA, which was signed by President Bill Clinton in 1993.
US timber industries also have long complained that Canada's policies unfairly benefit its loggers, too. The failed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal would have expanded U.S. access to those markets without completely removing the barriers. The TPP deal is widely expected to be a blueprint for the NAFTA renegotiations, which are set to start Wednesday in Washington.
President Trump is a long-time critic of NAFTA, having argued that the U.S.'s trading partners have gotten the better of the deal. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has said the administration would focus on eliminating unfair subsidies, a reference to Canadian dairy, poultry, and timber policies, among other goals.