Canada's Freeland says US NAFTA talks still constructive, productive

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After more than a year of talks, Canada and the United States are still trying to resolve differences over the North American Free Trade Agreement, which also includes Mexico.

Wednesday was the first day that negotiations between the two countries resumed after four intensive days of talks last week ended without a deal on Friday after the mood soured.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said the mechanism is crucial to a new NAFTA, but Mexico already has agreed to drop it.

One of the sticking points is access to the Canadian market for United States dairy farmers.

Trudeau, facing elections in 2019, said on Sunday (June 10) that Canada "will not be pushed around", triggering a fierce attack from Trump and his advisers, on Tuesday (June 12). "The longer term is not almost as clear", said Ekos pollster Frank Graves."Trade wars are never good for the respective combatants and if this escalates it could have very deleterious economic impacts".

Speculation has been building in recent weeks that the Trump administration is in the midst of a pivot from picking trade fights with allies to focusing on confronting China.

Freeland appeared at a women's summit Monday in Toronto, while Lighthizer was overseas to meet with the European Union trade commissioner.

"An early harvest in the area of technical barriers to trade" could come as soon as November, the office said, according to the Financial Times.

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In return for concessions on dairy, Canada could request US concessions on the so-called Chapter 19 dispute resolution mechanism that allows Canada to combat USA anti-dumping duties that Ottawa regards as unjustified.

On Friday Freeland told reporters the 13-month-old NAFTA talks had entered a "very intense" phase of "continuous negotiations". A political deadline in Mexico to sign the deal by December 1, plus requirements in American law have put pressure on Canada to join the pact by the end of this month at the latest.

New chapters governing the digital economy and stronger intellectual property, labor and environmental standards could also work to the benefit of US companies, possibly helping Trump to fulfill his campaign promise of creating more American jobs.

"I don't think President Trump will go to the mat over Chapter 19. And if we don't sign the deal, it's because no deal is actually better than a bad deal for Canada".

"It seems even if we give a lot, the USA keeps asking for more", said Mr. Kronby, an worldwide trade lawyer with Borden Ladner Gervais. "Canada and the US are too intertwined", Graves said.

Experts note that the desire to make a trade deal happen is influenced by upcoming political events, including the USA midterm elections in November, a transition of presidential power in Mexico in December and next year's Canadian election.

He professes to have American interests at heart in his hard-line handling of Canada in these ongoing NAFTA negotiations.

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