Canada’s Trudeau rejects US proposal for bilateral trade pact

Published June 7, 2018, 2:33 PM

by AJ Siytangco

By Agence France-Presse

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday rejected a US proposal to scrap the North American Free Trade Agreement in favor of a bilateral trade pact.

“We have, on various occasions, heard the president speak about his interest or his musings about a bilateral deal instead of the trilateral NAFTA that we have,” Trudeau told reporters before heading into a caucus meeting.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau  (AFP PHOTO / Lars Hagberg / MANILA BULLETIN)
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

“Canada’s position is, and always has been that the trilateral approach is actually better for Canada, for Mexico, and for the United States,” he said.

“We think that demonstrating the strength of NAFTA as a solid community as we take on the world is very much in all three of our advantages and we’ll continue to negotiate that way.”

Canada, Mexico and the United States have been holding talks on the two-decade-old NAFTA since last August, negotiations spurred by US President Donald Trump’s criticisms of the deal which he said was bad for his country.

But the negotiations have bogged down amid efforts to satisfy Trump’s demands for better terms, including a larger share of US-made components in North American autos, and a clause that would end the trade deal after five years unless it is renewed by the parties.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Tuesday that he presented the idea of a bilateral trade deal to a senior Canadian official on Monday and was awaiting a response to press ahead.

He noted that the talks to revamp NAFTA have “dragged on” so separate deals “might be able to happen more rapidly,” and expressed hope the response from Ottawa will come “as soon as possible and move the whole process forward.”