By Stewart Grant
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland spoke publicly this week regarding Canada’s goals as North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations with the United States and Mexico got underway on Wednesday.
“We’ve come to these negotiations very prepared…we are looking to make a good agreement even better,” said Freeland.
Canada’s key demands heading into NAFTA negotiations include the following:
– Protection of Canada’s supply management system for dairy and poultry;
– Maintaining a process to regulate anti-dumping and countervailing disputes such as the one over softwood lumber;
– New chapters on labour standards, environmental standards, gender rights and indigenous rights;
– Freer movement of professionals between countries;
– Expand procurement;
– Protection of cultural exemptions
“Our government is fully committed to supply management,” said Freeland in answering questions recently at the House of Commons. Freeland added that while the United States has been vocal about their opposition to supply management, Canada enters the negotiations with leverage on this particular issue: “When it comes to dairy today, the balance of trade is 5 to 1 in the United States’ favour…As well, when it comes to dairy, while we have our system of supply management, the US also has their own system of supporting American farmers; an extensive web of government support and subsidies.”
The NAFTA agreement was signed in 1992 and gradually eliminated tariffs and trade barriers between Canada, the United States and Mexico. The purpose of these new talks is to modernize the deal for the current times. With the Mexican presidential election coming up on July 1, 2018 and the U.S. mid-term elections in November 2018, all sides are hoping for productive negotiations and a completed deal before the end of the second quarter.