President Donald Trump’s trade negotiators entered the latest round of NAFTA talks Wednesday under growing pressure inside their own country to step back from a confrontational stance that’s left the USA isolated at the negotiating table.
Trump and Trudeau skipped the usual joint news conference after their meetings.
Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said Trudeau would “explain really clearly to the President. that Canada is not America’s problem”.
The Democrats marshaled their forces as the NAFTA talks resumed across the Potomac River in the D.C. suburb of Alexandria, Va., and as news reports indicate they may break down over the GOP Trump administration’s demands for higher US domestic content in cars, among other issues.
“Without a doubt, there’s life after NAFTA”, he said, “And that’s what gives us strength in the (current) negotiations“. -Canada deal that would leave Mexico out entirely. And in an interview with Forbes magazine published Tuesday, Trump said: “I happen to think that NAFTA will have to be terminated if we’re going to make it good”.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday accused Trump’s administration of trying to sabotage the talks with “poison pill proposals”, including demands for more favorable treatment for the U.S. side on auto production, and a “sunset clause” to force regular negotiations.
On automotive rules of origin, NAFTA negotiators face tough new USA demands to increase regional vehicle content to 85 percent from 62.5 percent, with 50 percent required from the United States, according to people briefed on the plan.
Trudeau is scheduled to visit Mexico today to hold additional discussions on NAFTA.
Those include United States demands to adjust the rules of origin, which would increase the percentage of the content of vehicle parts and other materials that would come from NAFTA countries in order for a good to qualify as duty free – a specific concern for the North American auto industry.
But repeating the “ready for anything” sentiment multiple times suggested a conscious decision to acknowledge that the outcome of the talks may not go Canada’s way.
Hosting the Canadian prime minister at the Oval Office, Trump said the USA had “a tough negotiation” over NAFTA ahead, which also includes Mexico, adding that it had to be fair to all countries. Yet, including provisions like extremes on rules of origin, a five year sunset expiration on any deal, and ending an effective worldwide dispute resolution mechanism are proposals that won’t lead to a new found era of cooperation.
“We are very aware that there are other potential paths out there, we will address them as they arise”. He also spoke about the possibility of signing a bilateral agreement. Negotiators start the fourth of seven planned rounds of talks near Washington on Wednesday. The third nation in the talks, Mexico, is holding out against both of the others on worker rights.
“When North America wins, America wins, and the American people win as well”, he said.
But he also asked for more access to Canada’s dairy market.
Of course this reasoning applies if one assumes Trump wants to update NAFTA for the 21st century rather than bury it. According to reports by Canadian media, Prime Minister Trudeau told President Trump behind closed doors that his preferred option was to modernize the continental accord.