Former Canadian negotiator Gordon Ritchie, in his memoirs of the original 1980s Canada-U.S. trade talks, expressed frustration that the lead U.S. negotiator repeatedly refused to engage in discussions that were considered politically sensitive and that would ultimately be decided in the end by his bosses in Washington.
“What I want to see out of Canada is less of the virtue-signalling type of approach where we put the centrepieces of Justin Trudeau’s image building – the gender equal cabinet, the reconciliation – they’re all important but this is an economic trade agreement”, said O’Toole.
A third round of talks is scheduled for Ottawa from September 23 to September 27.
Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Chrystia Freeland, will be present with her USA and Mexican counterparts as the second round of talks in Mexico will end on Tuesday.
The renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is still at a “very early stage”, and can not be assessed yet, Mexico’s Confederation of National Chambers of Commerce (Concanaco) said Monday, China’s Xinhua news agency reported.
Mexican economy minister Ildefonso Guajardo, speaking at an event in Mexico City, said “NAFTA will continue to regulate the relationship between Mexico and Canada”, Reuters reported.
Canadian negotiators led by Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland staked out a tough stance on the issue, going so far as to ask that the USA federal government step in to end state-level right to work legislation, which allows workers the option to choose whether or not to join a union in their workplace.
Attack mode, says the Conservative Party’s new foreign affairs critic, will not be the opposition’s first instinct when dealing with the Liberal government’s renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
“We’re working in that direction, analyzing all of the elements of the energy reform that should be included, of course to reflect the reform that Mexico established”, Smith Ramos told reporters in Mexico City on Saturday.
Echoing comments made recently by Vice President Mike Pence, Ms. Freeland said she was confident that the three countries could find a way to reach a deal that is a “win, win, win”.
The talks are also focusing on such issues as rules-of-origin and local content, electronic commerce, the environment and anti-corruption measures.
The United States is pushing to change these rules, including those governing the hotly debated auto sector.
Guajardo told journalists no official USA proposal had yet been tabled on either matter. Meanwhile, Mexican tomato imports have quadrupled, to 3.57 billion pounds, and strawberry imports have risen sixfold, to 568 million pounds.
A new NAFTA has to place worker protections at the forefront, ensuring that all workers can exercise their fundamental rights and have a voice at work.
Instituted in 1994, NAFTA eliminated most tariffs across a region representing some 28 percent of the world economy.
To opponents, it has gutted American industry and unleashed a race to the bottom in terms of wages.
In Mexico, wages are an uncomfortable issue.
“We’re doing everything we can to talk to people and educate them as to the benefits of NAFTA for our sector and for agriculture in general”, he said.