Labor boss Trumka says any new NAFTA deal must include Canada
00:43, Sep 4, 2018
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Trump's caution to Congress to "not interfere with these negotiations" appeared to refer to one potential obstacle: the fact that lawmakers have empowered him to reach a so-called "fast track" agreement with both NAFTA partners, not just Mexico.
Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, had on Sunday disputed the White House's strategy for renegotiating the NAFTA trade pact and argued that Trump had "done more to hurt workers than to help" them since taking office.
"We were far better off before NAFTA - should never have been signed. we make new deal or go back to pre-NAFTA!", he wrote.
After intense negotiations last week, USA and Canadian trade teams failed to strike a deal before Mr. Trump's Friday deadline.
"As we've said all week, we're working toward a modernized NAFTA that is good for the middle class and people working hard to join it", spokesman Adam Austen said in a statement.
Some questioned the Trump administration's hardball approach - cutting a deal with Mexico and pressing Canada to comply or risk being left out. But Canada insisted that it would only sign a new agreement that is good for the country.
Driving that optimism was agreement on auto content that would favour Canada and the United States due to their higher-wage workers, making it less appealing for manufacturers to move production to Mexico.
Trade tensions between the United States and Canada increased after the Toronto Star newspaper quoted Trump as saying he would sign a deal only if it was "totally on our terms". The president warned Congress not to meddle with the trade negotiations or he would terminate the trilateral trade pact altogether. However, Canada and the US did not meet the negotiating deadline, and talks are to continue this week.
The Friday deadline was aimed at getting the deal approved before the December 1 inauguration of Mexico's President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, a far-left politician who some fear will scuttle a deal.
The administration had constructive talks with Canada this week and is still hopeful the nation will join the deal with the USA and Mexico, a senior administration official told reporters Friday. Ottawa does have other complaints.
The White House had faced a Friday deadline to provide Congress with the necessary 90-day notice that it meant to enter into a new trade agreement with Canada and still have the new NAFTA deal signed by December 1. American and Canadian negotiators will return to negotiations on Wednesday.
But Daniel Ujczo, a trade attorney of the law firm Dickinson Wright in Columbus, Ohio, and others say the flashpoints include trade barriers that protect Canadian dairy farmers and Ottawa's insistence on keeping NAFTA provisions for resolving disputes. "When you take your best friend, your greatest ally in the world and start squeezing them, you can win but I will tell you, the relationship will be damaged much longer than it will take the ink to dry on a new NAFTA deal", Heyman said.
"I also strongly urge Canada to step up and demonstrate that it can take on the ambitious obligations of the agreement with the aim of concluding a modern, seamless three-way agreement", he said.
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