Trade ministers from Canada, Mexico and the United States wrapped up the sixth NAFTA negotiations in Montreal today, agreeing some progress was made but acknowledging tough challenges still lie ahead to strike a new deal.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said while some progress was made, he hopes it will accelerate and achieve “major breakthroughs.”
“This round was a step forward, but we are progressing slowly,” he said.
Lighthizer said trilateral negotiations are more “complicated and contentious” than bilateral talks.
The three political trade leaders closed a chapter on anti-corruption and made progress on other key areas.
In his closing remarks, Lighthizer also took the opportunity to rip into a trade challenge launched by Canada against the U.S., calling the World Trade Organization filing against Washington’s use of anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties a “massive attack on all of our trade laws.
Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said Canada prefers a negotiated settlement, but in the meantime, will protect the domestic softwood lumber industry.
Canada appeared to be mounting a case on behalf of the rest of the world, since it cited almost 200 examples of alleged U.S. wrongdoing, almost all of them concerning other trading partners, such as China, India, Brazil and the European Union.
The last time the three politicians met following a round of talks, Freeland openly accused the United States of deliberately trying to undermine NAFTA, calling its list of unconventional proposals “troubling.”
She also warned that an updated NAFTA can’t be achieved with a “winner-takes-all mindset,” or one that tries to undermine, rather than modernize, the agreement.
Lighthizer pushes through media1:23
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CBC | World News