NAFTA and Softwood Lumber Chapter XIX

Stacks of lumber are pictured at NMV Lumber in Merritt, B.C., Tuesday, May 2, 2017.

JONATHAN HAYWARD/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Canada’s decision to turn to the North American Free Trade Agreement for a solution to the latest softwood lumber dispute proves how critical the agreement’s dispute resolution mechanisms are to this country, a Canadian international trade expert said Wednesday.

Canada on Tuesday asked a review panel under Chapter 19 of NAFTA to investigate the countervailing duties imposed on Canadian softwood imports into the United States.

The U.S. argues Canada unfairly subsidizes its lumber industry, and the question for the panel will be whether the duties are legal under U.S. laws.

This is the fifth Canada-U.S. softwood lumber dispute since 1982, and the third in which Canada has sought relief under the dispute mechanisms of free trade agreements with the U.S. They have largely ruled in Canada’s favour in the past.

Colin Robertson, a former Canadian trade diplomat, said Wednesday it’s no surprise Canada made the application despite political battles with the U.S. over the very existence of the Chapter 19 dispute mechanism.

“It would not be logical for us not to use it and we had to use it within a certain time frame so of course we’re going to apply it,” said Robertson.

Chapter 19 of NAFTA means Canada can get a panel made up of U.S. and Canadian trade experts to decide if the duties follow U.S. trade law, rather than going to the U.S. court system.

Robertson said trade agreements were pursued by Canada in the first place largely to create a dispute settlement mechanism “to give us some relief from unfair application – and I stress unfair – of American trade law.”

“In a psychological fashion from a Canadian perspective (this) kind of underlines why Chapter 19 is essential,” he said.

However U.S. President Donald Trump wants Chapter 19 eliminated, and he has support from many U.S. industries who feel it is unconstitutional and that the American courts are best equipped to determine whether U.S. law is being upheld.

The Canadian government has indicated eliminating Chapter 19 is a non-starter.

Robertson said the negotiations on NAFTA are largely parallel to this particular dispute, and Canada and the U.S. almost certainly knew when the last softwood agreement expired in 2015, that we’d end up back at Chapter 19 eventually.

In the past, NAFTA panels have told the U.S. its laws did not allow it to determine whether Canada’s pricing system for wood was fair using U.S. market prices, or that if there was a subsidy at play it was never as big as what the Americans tried to suggest with their duties. In 2005, a NAFTA panel unanimously agreed the U.S. industry had not been injured by Canada’s stumpage fee system.

Canada would hope to have similar findings again.

NAFTA rules require a panel decision on this complaint be made no later than the end of September 2018.

NAFTA

Nafta Negotiators Set to Look for Small Wins After U.S. Threats

  • Talks on trade pact set to resume Wednesday in Mexico City
  • Mexico warns Nafta death will impact U.S, security cooperation
NAFTA is in real trouble, says Gregory Valliere, chief global strategist at Horizon Investments.

As Donald Trump pushes to overhaul U.S. trade ties abroad, negotiations with his two biggest export markets are resuming in hopes of finding new common ground on easier subjects — leaving the most contentious U.S. demands for later.

The fifth round of North American Free Trade Agreement talks starts Wednesday in Mexico City, two days earlier than initially scheduled. It’s the first meeting since U.S., Mexican and Canadian negotiators extended talks to March and added more time between sessions, abandoning Trump’s previous deadline.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer capped the last session by chastising Mexico and Canada for balking at certain demands — it was the U.S. that sought the extension, according to two government officials familiar with the proceedings who spoke on condition of anonymity. The most contentious U.S. demands are on dairy, automotive content, dispute panels, government procurement and a sunset clause.

Mexico is warning talks could impact immigration cooperation with the U.S., while Canada is effectively holding up the Trans Pacific partnership — a deal Trump quit, that was also effectively a Nafta update — as it pushes for improvements. Lighthizer has complained that Mexico and Canada aren’t agreeing to what was already in TPP.

One government official said Nafta negotiations this week are expected to focus on smaller issues related to modernizing the deal, and the thorniest discussions will be put off until later rounds. Many observers expect the same.

“Instructions are ‘let’s keep the ball moving, let’s not have fireworks,’” said Welles Orr, a former assistant U.S. Trade Representative under George H. W. Bush who is now a senior international trade adviser in law firm Miller & Chevalier’s international trade practice in Washington. U.S. lawmakers are fully focused on tax reform and that’s left little bandwidth to push quickly for a Nafta deal, Orr said.

He expects a handful of deals “on noncontroversial items to at least keep the pace of negotiations going and so that they can at least claim they’re making progress.”

‘Litmus Test’

Nafta covers more than $1 trillion a year in trade and government officials have described essentially two sets of negotiations — one focused on modernizing a 23-year-old agreement for an Internet era, and another where Mexico and Canada essentially rejected high-profile U.S. demands on subjects that bear Trump’s finger prints, like dairy and autos.

The negotiations, which started in August, cover 28 areas of trade. The countries have so far reached substantially or fully completed deals on chapters covering competition rules and small- and medium-sized enterprises. Chief negotiators are expected to arrive Friday and the ministers — Lighthizer, Chrystia Freeland and Ildefonso Guajardo — will join next week. A spokeswoman for Lighthizer declined to discuss the upcoming round.

Canada and Mexico are the first- and second-largest buyers of U.S. goods, but the U.S. still has a $53.1 billion merchandise trade deficit with Mexico through September of this year, and a shortfall of $12.4 billion with Canada. Trump has regularly criticized trade deficits and wants to reduce them; Canada and Mexico have said they’re not the best way to measure the success of a trade agreement.

“Nafta has become kind of a litmus test of U.S trade intentions” for other U.S. trading partners in Asia and Europe, said Colin Robertson, senior adviser at the Dentons LLP law firm and a former Canadian diplomat. The U.S. demands signal they’re seeking “a substantial redo” of a pact, and those kinds of negotiations typically take years, he said.

Remove Exports

The willingness to fight in public was obvious at the last round. Lighthizer said he was “surprised and disappointed by the resistance to change,” while Guajardo said Mexico has limits to what it can accept. Canada’s Freeland criticized a “winner-take-all mindset.” While Canada and Mexico may be able to compromise, the real question is whether the U.S. can too.

“What they’re asking of the Canadians and Mexicans is to take away their exports,” said Chad Bown, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “It’s really back to the Trump administration to decide for itself how serious they are about those proposals. If they are serious about them, I don’t see a serious outcome.”

Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray warned over the weekend that Mexico will be less likely to cooperate with the U.S. on security and immigration if Nafta talks collapse. “It’s a fact of life and there is a political reality that a bad outcome on Nafta will have some impact on that,” he said in an interview Saturday at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam. “We don’t want that to happen and we’re working hard to get to a good outcome.”

When asked on Nov. 2 about a deal, National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn offered conciliatory words. “We’re trying,” he said in Washington. “Negotiators are continuously meeting, and we’re continuously trying to get to a point where we think that American- based companies and American-based manufacturers are treated fairly in the agreement.”

Trump may have wiggle room after U.S. automakers urged him to keep Nafta, a pact he has said has led to one-sided trade and cost jobs.

Nafta Impact

Linda Hasenfratz, chief executive officer of auto parts maker Linamar Corp., said in an earnings call last week she sees four key areas of dispute — auto rules, the sunset clause, the dispute panels and government procurement. “There’s an opportunity to come to resolution on each of these issues if all parties want that to happen,” Hasenfratz, who sits on Canada’s Nafta advisory council, said on a Nov. 7 earnings call.

An American proposal for 50 percent U.S. content in vehicles has “no chance” of being agreed to, she said, but the overall content requirement could be raised from the current threshold, which requires 62.5 percent of a vehicle be sourced from the three Nafta countries.

If that happens, “there’s a chance we could win some new work,” Hasenfratz said. If Nafta dies, she said it’s likely they’d revert to World Trade Organization tariffs of between 2 and 2.5 percent. “The bottom line is, one way or another, we would deal with the 2 percent,” she said. “No one is going to spend billions of dollars shifting work to different countries for 2 percent.”

Reverting to WTO tariffs would cut Canadian GDP growth by a total of about 1 percent over five to 10 years, Royal Bank of Canada said in a report Friday. “The odds that NAFTA will be torn up, not simply amended, appear to be increasing,” Senior Economist Nathan Janzen wrote. “The end of NAFTA would be a negative outcome for the Canadian economy, but a manageable one.”

— With assistance by Kristine Owram, and Randy Woods

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Ambassador Kelly Knight Craft

New U.S. envoy Kelly Craft faces challenges representing Donald Trump

Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press
Published Monday, October 23, 2017 10:34AM EDT

OTTAWA — Kelly Craft’s first acts of public diplomacy in Canada involved quoting John F. Kennedy — a Democrat — and acknowledging the country’s collective loss of Gord Downie.

As for her boss, U.S. President Donald Trump, and all his talk of tearing up the North American Free Trade Agreement, that was consigned to the back burner on her first day on the job in Canada.

Craft became Trump’s new U.S. ambassador to Canada, but offered a reference to Kennedy — the only deviation from her carefully scripted and delivered public remarks — after she formally took office Monday, becoming the first woman to ever occupy the role.

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“If I may echo the sentiments of President Kennedy, I truly feel amongst friends,” she said after joining several new diplomats who submitted their credentials to Gov. Gen. Julie Payette at Rideau Hall.

The Kennedy remark was not in the first version of her speaking notes, which were distributed by the U.S. embassy after her swearing-in.

Craft also gave a respectful nod to the lingering national grief over the death of Downie, acknowledging the passing last week of the beloved Tragically Hip frontman.

“It is clear that he deeply loved Canada; his poetic voice fell silent too soon,” she said.

“He once said that in recent years, it was hard for him to leave a song without a glimmer of hope. He viewed art, his music and his writings to help bring people closer in. I believe this is important business that we should all be about.”

As Trump’s ambassador, she is likely to find herself negotiating some tough issues with her Canadian hosts, including the NAFTA renegotiation and climate change.

She has also expressed support for the president’s trade agenda, which involves renegotiating or cancelling NAFTA.

She professed to be “a great listener” who will work to protect the economic relationship between the two countries.

“I am committed to continuing our collaboration to address security at the border,” she said. “But, I also want to make sure we continue to make it easier to engage in cross-border trade and travel.”

Colin Robertson, a retired Canadian diplomat with extensive experience in the U.S., said Craft was clearly trying to put her best foot forward.

“It’s in our interest to take her in and embrace her, and have her become, in a sense, our best advocate,” Robertson said.

With the latest round of NAFTA talks exposing a wide gulf between the U.S. and Canada, Robertson said Ottawa needs to cultivate Craft as a pipeline for Canada to the White House, said Robertson.

That’s especially important, he added, because relations appear strained between Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

Freeland and Craft exchanged smiles and good wishes in the minister’s office on Monday afternoon with the envoy saying she looked forward to strengthening relations between the two countries.

Freeland told Craft that she knows “first hand” that she is extremely well respected in the U.S.

“Isn’t it great that we now have the first woman ambassador from the United States.”

Payette, who was presiding at her first ceremony to welcome new diplomats, also told Craft it was “a pleasure to welcome you as the first female ambassador of the United States to Canada.”

Roland Paris, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s first foreign policy adviser, said Craft faces the tough task of representing a president who is unpopular in Canada.

“It won’t be easy to put a kinder and saner face on this administration,” said Paris.

“Among other things, she will be asked to explain why President Trump seems inclined to treat Canada, America’s closest ally and friend, as an economic adversary rather than as a partner.”

Craft got cracking on that job Monday, declaring: “It is a privilege to represent the United States in Canada and to be entrusted with the responsibility of working so closely with such an important friend, ally and neighbour.”

Craft is well-known sports fan, philanthropist and powerful donor to the Republican party, whose husband is Joe Craft, a wealthy Kentucky coal magnate.

She is also close with Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, one of the country’s most powerful lawmakers, who also hails from her state.

McConnell has occasionally bickered with the president, whose anti-establishment, trade-skeptical, more combative stance has put him at odds with the party’s establishment.

Paris said it will be difficult at times for Craft to represent her president to the Canadian government, “given the confused state of the Trump administration.”

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NAFTA After Round IV

Farmscape is produced by Wonderworks Canada and distributed courtesy of Manitoba Pork and Sask Pork. Visit our website at www.farmscape.ca

Farmscape for October 23, 2017

The Vice-President of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute says a planned one month break in negotiations aimed at modernizing NAFTA will allow interests in the United States that favor maintaining the agreement time to make their point.
After negotiations aimed at revamping the North American Free Trade Agreement hit an impasse, negotiators have decided to delay the start of Round 5 and extend the timeline for completing the talks.
Colin Robertson, the Vice-President and a Fellow of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, says, from a Canadian and Mexican perspective, the feeling is that unless the Trump administration is prepared to show some flexibility an agreement not likely to be reached.

Clip-Colin Robertson-Canadian Global Affairs Institute:
Canada and Mexico on their own will not be able to sway the administration.
What swayed the administration on Day 100 was particularly pushback from the farm community who said, “no, this NAFTA is working for them”.
In fact, I think time is probably useful.
A Canadian expression, “we rag the puck for awhile,” because this will give time for those who favor a renegotiated but not arbitrary North American Free Trade Agreement time to make their voices heard in the United States.
Many of them of course are people who voted for Trump within the business community, within the farm community and within the auto manufacturing community.
Our sense now is that the business community, through the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, through the Business Roundtable, through the National Association of Manufacturers, through the Automakers, the Farm Bureau and others are now going to push back and start to explain why the NAFTA has worked for the United States.

Robertson says there’s a sense that the Trump administration is not terribly interested in having an agreement and at some point, rescind NAFTA.
However, he observes, if the broader community who favors freer trade makes their voices heard, that may persuade the administration to temper its demands and work things out.
For Farmscape.Ca, I’m Bruce Cochrane.

       *Farmscape is a presentation of Sask Pork and Manitoba Pork

Interview  20:41

To access the web version click this link http://newsletter.farmscape.ca/w/3PT7Ie0pS4xtbeFEJA8IbQ/f8HMprSHJtCUF2C0eBHEYw/Dj4em7BvqmWPHtDdIoQ6gQ

Delayed Resumption of Re-negotiations Expected to Favour US NAFTA Supporters

23 October 2017

Manitoba Pork Council

Farm-Scape is sponsored by
Manitoba Pork Council and Sask Pork

FarmScape is a Wonderworks Canada production and is distributed courtesy of Manitoba Pork Council
and Sask Pork.

CANADA & US – The Vice-President of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute says a planned one month break in negotiations aimed at modernizing NAFTA will allow interests in the United States that favor maintaining the agreement time to make their point, Bruce Cochrane reports.

After negotiations aimed at revamping the North American Free Trade Agreement hit an impasse, negotiators have decided to delay the start of Round 5 and extend the timeline for completing the talks.

Colin Robertson, the Vice-President and a Fellow of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, says, from a Canadian and Mexican perspective, the feeling is that unless the Trump administration is prepared to show some flexibility an agreement not likely to be reached.

Colin Robertson-Canadian Global Affairs Institute

Canada and Mexico on their own will not be able to sway the administration.

What swayed the administration on Day 100 was particularly pushback from the farm community who said, “no, this NAFTA is working for them”.

In fact, I think time is probably useful.

A Canadian expression, “we rag the puck for awhile,” because this will give time for those who favor a renegotiated but not arbitrary North American Free Trade Agreement time to make their voices heard in the United States.

Many of them of course are people who voted for Trump within the business community, within the farm community and within the auto manufacturing community.

Our sense now is that the business community, through the US Chamber of Commerce, through the Business Roundtable, through the National Association of Manufacturers, through the Automakers, the Farm Bureau and others are now going to push back and start to explain why the NAFTA has worked for the United States.

Mr Robertson says there’s a sense that the Trump administration is not terribly interested in having an agreement and at some point, rescind NAFTA.

However, he observes, if the broader community who favors freer trade makes their voices heard, that may persuade the administration to temper its demands and work things out.

ThePoultrySite News Desk

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Negotiating NAFTA: How it works

Behind the scenes of how Canada’s ‘dream team’ negotiates NAFTA

Chief negotiator Steve Verheul, and Canada’s top two officials in Washington, David MacNaughton and Kirsten Hillman, are among the dozens involved in the sensitive trade talks, which see negotiators holed up in a different North American capital’s hotel board rooms every few weeks to hash out the text.

Mexico’s Economy Secretary Ildefonso Guajardo, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland, and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer exit a press briefing during the third round of negotiations to rework NAFTA.The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade

PUBLISHED :Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017 12:00 AM

Every few weeks this fall, roughly 300 Canadians, Americans, and Mexicans descend on a hotel in one of their respective capitals for about five days. While lobbyists chat in the hotel coffee shop or restaurant and reporters troll for tidbits of news, trade negotiators are holed up in hotel board rooms, sometimes 20 to a room, hashing out how to rework the North American Free Trade Agreement, at times until the wee hours of the morning.

The hundreds of Canadians working on the highly secretive NAFTA renegotiation operate largely behind the scenes and work on a need-to-know basis, but the talks nevertheless follow a formula familiar to the experienced team, say trade experts.

“There’s a considerable effort to keep things fairly quiet in public,” said Queen’s University professor emeritus Robert Wolfe, adding the relatively few leaks to media on Canadian strategy is no mistake.

Representatives of businesses and other groups getting updates or serving in advisory roles have signed non-disclosure agreements.

The negotiations, ongoing since August, involve 28 “tables” or negotiating rooms, each hashing out what will likely become a chapter in the final deal’s text.

These NAFTA talks are different from past trade talks in that the time between rounds is only a few weeks, whereas in other talks it might be months. Also, the politicians leading the talks from the three countries fly in for the end of each round, typically dining with each other, sitting down for formal meetings, and approving a joint communiqué on what was accomplished.

During the latest round, the fourth, in a Washington-area hotel, negotiators seemed to have finished the low-hanging fruit where the three countries could easily agree, and moved on to stickier subjects. “Substantially all” initial text proposals have been tabled, according to the three sides’ joint communiqué at the end of the round.

Canada, the United States, and Mexico have touted progress after effectively closing chapters on small- and medium-sized enterprises and competition, but tensions grew in the fourth round, which ended Oct. 17, as American negotiators were accused of pushing non-starters and United States President Donald Trump mused again about pulling out of the deal if his country doesn’t get what it wants.

After the breakneck speed of initial negotiations, there will now be more time in between, the communiqué said, with Mexico set to host the fifth round of talks in Mexico City from Nov. 17-21. More negotiating rounds will be scheduled through the first quarter of 2018.

Based on past practice, like with the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, there wouldn’t be many Canadians involved who know very much of the big-picture details, and Mr. Wolfe’s sense is with NAFTA even less are in the loop.

“They are being very careful. They really do not want to negotiate in public, they really do not want something being said in Ottawa that could cause a firestorm in the White House because there’s a completely unpredictable negotiating environment.”

It’s a necessity born of the alchemy of several factors: a tight timeline ahead of 2018 elections in Mexico and U.S., the intensity of interest in Canada, and the volatile situation under Mr. Trump and his America-first rhetoric.

 

The tables

The chief negotiators’ table seems to meet all the time during a round, observers noted, made up of John Melle of the United States, Kenneth Smith of Mexico, and Canada’s Steve Verheul. They also would have met early on to determine the topics each table would focus on—which are likely to become the chapters of the deal’s text.

Each table, or negotiating room, works with the text in their chapter alone, while the chief negotiators carry with them the full text and will cover the contentious issues. They usually meet at the beginning and end of the day to debrief with their table leads and funnel key information up to the political leads, in Canada’s case Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland (University-Rosedale, Ont.). Sometimes a chief negotiator might interrupt a head of one table if their discussion becomes relevant, but “they try and do it in tandem so they’re not upsetting the process,” said former Canadian diplomat Colin Robertson.

Last week, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross circulated a list of 28 topics not previously made public. Global Affairs Canada did not respond to confirm if the list was accurate, after some observers noted oddities, namely the lumping of trade remedies in with dispute settlement and a “securities annex,” which sources told Inside U.S. Trade was not a topic being covered in the talks or something the three countries were looking to include in a new deal.

Other topics included agriculture, customs, energy, environment, digital trade, intellectual property, labour, rules of origin, and technical barriers to trade. While there is a table on gender, which Canada said was a priority, a chapter dedicated to Indigenous people was absent. That’s likely still being handled at the chief negotiators’ table, said Mr. Wolfe.

As much as Canada may publicly push for the above goals and environmental standards, the reality is defensive issues are taking the top spot, said Ottawa-based trade strategist Peter Clark. Hotly contested issues are rules of origin, the review of Chapter 19’s dispute settlement, and supply management, which came into the crosshairs this week as the U.S. demanded its end, according to media reports.

Most of the tables are working from a single unified text, with sections in square brackets highlighting separate language where the sides disagree. A particular clause could have three different versions, or perhaps two, if only one is the odd country out on language agreement. The tables work off that piece of paper until they reach consensus, or one single text they all agree on.

Often the Canadian chapter heads managing each table would be from Global Affairs Canada, but also from the government department responsible for the area. That’s the case with Canada’s chief agriculture negotiator Frédéric Seppey, who observers note is in a uniquely—and historically—public position given the complexity of the highly technical file. Other negotiator names are not public and Global Affairs did not respond to a request for that list.

Other than the heads and their supporting staff, the hundred or so Canadians in Arlington, Va. supporting the negotiations this week didn’t divide into sectors. There are legal staff, regional and provincial experts, including those from the respective department or the embassy in Washington.

“They’re the resource people. They’re to help you from falling into [an] abyss,” Mr. Clark said, adding Canada’s Ambassador to the United States David MacNaughton—the country’s quarterback when it comes to Congress—has a big team working for him, including his No. 2 Kirsten Hillman, deputy head of mission, who used to be Canada’s chief negotiator for the TPP.

“They’re aware where all of the bodies are buried, where Canada has leverage, which states are big suppliers to Canada. He puts it all together,” said Mr. Clark, referring to Mr. McNaughton. He was speaking last week from Washington where he said the sides were going in the rooms to negotiate late in the evening, often with at least half a dozen people from each country. By Sunday, he noted the pace of the meetings had slowed.

In an interview last month, Rideau Potomac Strategy Group president Eric Miller, a former vice-president with the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, called them the “dream team.” Ms. Hillman has the technical knowledge from her years working in trade, including on the TPP, and Mr. MacNaughton, while not a deep trade expert, has the “complete trust” of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Papineau, Que.).

Both Mr. Wolfe and Mr. Robertson sit on a trade-experts council that acts as an advisory sounding board to the deputy minister of trade, who briefs the group periodically and seeks their views. There are also a number of advisory groups from various business sectors, Mr. Robertson added. Those groups likely have their own lawyers looking at the language of the deal and aware of the sensitivities.

“That’s why these things run over three or four days, because you are constantly checking back to verify,” Mr. Robertson said.

As much as the action is where the negotiating teams meet, there’s also that chain of check-ins and a fairly complex behind-the-scenes process in Ottawa to develop negotiating objectives and to ensure there is broad support within the government, Mr. Wolfe added.

Hotels make a good space for these sorts of negotiations, said Mr. Robertson, explaining in his experience how they would reorganize tables to fit in a big square or triangle to fit the three sides. Principal negotiators for each country would be in the front row, with those in supporting roles behind.

In this round, Mr. Clark said the board rooms can hold around 20 people.

“Each table will have its own dynamic and it is a reflection in part of the personalities at the table,” said Mr. Robertson, but what’s different here is that the players know each other quite well, many of whom would have been at the table for TPP.

“The rhythm depends on what it is you’re negotiating,” he added.

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NAFTA: San Antonio conference

Trade Experts Say Trump’s Anti-NAFTA Blasts Have Clouded Renegotiation Talks

Shari Biediger September 29, 2017

While former Mexican and American diplomats blamed President Donald Trump’s broadsides against the North American Free Trade Agreement for harming U.S.-Mexico relations, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg brought the current trilateral trade renegotiation talks home by pointing out the almost 200,000 local jobs that are at stake.

“We employ about 63,000 people as a result of NAFTA, and the indirect impact, it’s 135,000 jobs,” Nirenberg said during a panel discussion on the NAFTA renegotiations. “And if you look at it overall, the benefit San Antonio families have had as a result of very positive and inclusive environment with trade in Texas, the bulk of our GDP growth has come from the fact that we have been involved [in support of NAFTA] locally.”

At a forum co-hosted by the Rivard Report and St. Mary’s University on Friday morning, former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Antonio Garza acknowledged that job losses across the nation have driven some of the anti-NAFTA rhetoric.

While former Mexican and American diplomats blamed President Donald Trump’s broadsides against the North American Free Trade Agreement for harming U.S.-Mexico relations, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg brought the current trilateral trade renegotiation talks home by pointing out the almost 200,000 local jobs that are at stake.

“We employ about 63,000 people as a result of NAFTA, and the indirect impact, it’s 135,000 jobs,” Nirenberg said during a panel discussion on the NAFTA renegotiations. “And if you look at it overall, the benefit San Antonio families have had as a result of very positive and inclusive environment with trade in Texas, the bulk of our GDP growth has come from the fact that we have been involved [in support of NAFTA] locally.”

At a forum co-hosted by the Rivard Report and St. Mary’s University on Friday morning, former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Antonio Garza acknowledged that job losses across the nation have driven some of the anti-NAFTA rhetoric.

As part of the “NAFTA 2.0: The Future of North American Trade” forum, Rivard Report publisher Robert Rivard moderated the discussion between Garza and Mexico Ambassador to the U.S. Gerónimo Gutiérrez, who talked about NAFTA’s history, including the most recent round of the trade negotiation talks that took place in Ottawa, Canada.

“We are in better shape now than we were at the beginning of the year,” Gutiérrez said, avoiding direct criticism of U.S. officials. “We are talking to each other. We have good communication with Trump. But that doesn’t mean we agree on everything.”

Garza said that although he believes negative rhetoric around immigration and NAFTA has drawn down the reservoir of goodwill between Mexico and the U.S., he also remains optimistic about NAFTA’s future.

“In the wake of the response to Harvey, and the solidarity we’ve shown following the earthquakes in Mexico, we’re seeing the very best in human nature,” Garza said. “And if we could somehow distill that … we could resolve some of the major challenges we have.”

Gutiérrez said NAFTA has been oversold and underexplained. “Oversold in the sense that it was not a solution to every problem the U.S., Mexico, or Canada has in terms of its development and it was never intended,” he said. “But the numbers don’t resonate to someone in Ohio maybe [who lost a job].” He believes the good news of NAFTA is better told through stories and people.

Nevertheless, he believes the first three rounds of talks only set the stage for tougher ones to come. The timetable set to complete negotiations – by the end of this year or the start of 2018 – is too ambitious, he said.

Although many state and national analysts consider the trade deal to have had far-reaching and positive economic effects on all three countries, NAFTA opponents argue that the U.S. lost high-paying jobs and gained a mounting trade deficit. Trump campaigned on protectionist ideals in 2016, and against NAFTA.

In the U.S. currently, the number of jobs that depend on foreign trade is at 14 million, Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff said. Nearly 5 million of those jobs come from trade with Mexico and Canada, countries that buy $600 billion goods from the U.S. – cars and parts, food, and fuel – every year. Almost 400,000 jobs in Texas are supported by NAFTA-created commerce, according to the Texas-Mexico Trade Coalition.

The 1993 signing of NAFTA occurred in a courtyard of La Villita in San Antonio. As the agreement is cross-examined and renegotiated, some political and civic leaders remain optimistic that NAFTA 2.0 will uphold the neighborly relationship it affirmed 24 years ago.

“History has shown time and again that protectionism does not work,” said Wolff, who was San Antonio’s mayor when NAFTA was signed. “One country’s overregulation of free trade leads to another country’s terror. They lose economic activity, competitiveness, innovation declines and ultimately, jobs are lost. This reality seems to be lost in the current dialogue about the North American Free Trade Agreement.”

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff attends NAFTA 2.0: The Future of North American Trade at St. Mary’s University.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has said that during the trade talks this week some issues related to small- and medium-size business were resolved. He also said delegates made significant progress on competition policy, digital trade, state-owned enterprises, and telecommunications.

In another discussion at Friday’s forum, former Canadian diplomat Colin Robertson said he remains positive about the treaty’s prospects, despite Trump’s rhetoric. Robertson called upon delegates to not only be as pioneering in renegotiating NAFTA as they were in creating it, but simply to get it done.

“I’d be happy to call it the ‘Trump Trade Agreement.’ Whatever we have to do to get it approved,” he said. “Make [this version] different but something that will sustain public support because if the people don’t like it and [it’s] simply done for business, it’s not going to fly.”

Gerry Schwebel, International Bank of Commerce’s corporate international division’s executive vice president, was in Canada earlier this week for the negotiations.

“At the end of the day, governments don’t trade. People trade,” he said. “And I think it’s important that we, the people, those of us who are engaged in the process tell the story and stay engaged, whether at the local chamber level or state level or coalitions.”

U.S. Chamber of Commerce Senior Vice President of International Affairs Jodi Hanson Bond was also in Canada this week and said protectionism will not help U.S. businesses now or in the long term.

“We need to have an open mind and an open market. That protectionist sentiment will keep you from growing,” she said. “You can blame a country for those [job] losses, but that country’s name is ‘innovation.’”

Bond said the U.S. Chamber is working to help the agriculture industry in “red states” understand NAFTA’s contribution to food exports, “because farmers had no idea who was buying their crops,” and because if NAFTA “goes off the cliff, it will be a disaster for those red states.”

Robertson, Bond, and Schwebel encouraged forum attendees to ensure their voices are heard, noting that if more people outside the state of Texas understood the stakes, NAFTA would not be at risk. One visit to the border would do it.

Schwebel described Laredo as “sitting on the 50-yard-line of the Super Bowl of Trade,” adding, “you could say the same for San Antonio.”

On a panel with North American Development Bank Acting Managing Director Alejandro Hinojosa and policy development consultant Luz María de la Mora Sánchez, Nirenberg criticized anti-NAFTA statements out of Washington.

“It simply belies the fact that we would take on this protectionist mode as we get into what should be a very serious negotiation to modernize one of the most significant trade agreements in human history,” he said. “Unfortunately, the backdrop of negotiations has been poisoned by national campaign rhetoric.”

Nirenberg brought up ongoing issues with immigration as well. “So it makes it very difficult to govern in that environment when it’s your own local community that is suffering.”

The 1994 creation of NADBank in San Antonio was a side agreement to NAFTA. Since then, the bank has funded many infrastructure improvements along the border, including wastewater treatment. Those improvements are more than about attracting businesses and creating jobs across the border. It’s brought quality of life to an entire region.

“North America is a region,” said De la Mora, who served as a negotiator during the first NAFTA negotiations 23 years ago. “We take it for granted. We never really took the time to explain to people what’s at stake … Trump has said, ‘NAFTA has been a disaster,’ and it’s been the worst trade deal ever negotiated. That’s the way it has been presented.

“We felt like we were in a war.”

Every country has lost, and gained, jobs because of NAFTA, she said. “Mexico and Canada are coming to the table to update and modernize the agreement,” she said. “But the U.S. perspective is of isolation, nationalism, protectionism and, with all due respect, racism.”

De la Mora said choosing how to communicate NAFTA’s impact is important. “What we really need to do is find a story that makes sense to people, that really touches them,” she said. “We have not done a good job at that.”

Making a case for the proposed Toyota-Mazda plant to be built in San Antonio is a story that begins with NAFTA, Nirenberg said. “NAFTA is why we have an integrated supply line with Mexico today.”

Rivard said the publication contacted the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Trump administration’s communications staff about participating in the forum, but received no response. Also invited to participate was Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos, who said he was unable to attend because he was working on Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts in Houston.

At the start of the forum, Rivard announced that proceeds from sponsorship of the event will fund a new $10,000 scholarship at the San Antonio-Mexico Friendship Council, aid to Mexican earthquake victims, and nonprofit journalism.

“While other people are talking about building walls and closing borders, we want to create a scholarship where more young people can come from Mexico and Canada and throughout the United States to St. Mary’s to study international business and relations,” Rivard said.

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Trade and Gender

U.S. unlikely to accept NAFTA gender chapter with teeth: trade experts

Saturday, September 23rd, 2017
THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Judi Bottoni
OTTAWA –  The Liberals want a feminist North American Free Trade Agreement, but trade experts say that will depend on reassuring the United States no one could use it to hold their feet to the fire.

“I think U.S. support for such a chapter (on gender equality) would hinge upon the soft or hard nature of the commitments in any proposal with respect to gender,” said Wendy Cutler, a former trade negotiator for the U.S. government.

“If it’s largely aspirational and has soft commitments, with no dispute settlement and no obligation to accede to other agreements, then I think it’s something the administration would consider favourably,” said Cutler, vice-president of the Asia Society Policy Institute in Washington, D.C.

In other words – no real consequences for failure.

The U.S. and Mexico have already been asking high-level questions about the scope and impact of the proposed chapter on gender equality, according to Angella MacEwen, a senior economist with the Canadian Labour Congress.

“They were looking at the language the Canadians had proposed and were saying, ‘Why would we do this?”’ said MacEwen, who is familiar with that aspect of the talks.

“Would this change anything?”

The answer could be a matter of perspective.

The Canadian Press has not seen the proposed text, but several sources both in and outside of government said it is modelled after the gender chapter the Liberal government added to its free trade deal with Chile.

That pact – the second in the world – had both countries agree that working to include women and girls is key to long-term economic development and reaffirm their commitment to international agreements on gender rights.

They also set up a committee to oversee that work.

It also made clear, however, that nothing in the gender chapter could be subject to the dispute resolution mechanism that applies to the rest of the trade deal.

“The Chile chapter is really weak,” said MacEwen.

It is this kind of symbolism that had the Conservatives pushing back against the idea of wrapping gender equality into the new NAFTA, calling it a distraction from the goals of creating jobs and securing market access for Canadians.

International Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said the fact that gender rights are on the table at all – and codified in the Canada-Chile deal – is an important step.

“It’s a journey,” he said in an interview.

“The fact that we even have a discussion around what should be the content, how far it should go, what will be the process to review the clause from time to time, for me is already a step forward,” said Champagne.

“The gold standard now needs to include a gender chapter.”

Colin Robertson, a former Canadian diplomat, said he thinks the progressive trade agenda the Liberals have been championing is getting noticed because of the recognition that the many benefits of trade have not been shared equally.

“Gender specifically is really about equal treatment and empowerment, especially of women, and this crosses the North-South-East-West divide,” said Robertson, vice-president and fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.

“Even Trump recognizes its salience.”

The Liberal government might be bringing gender issues into other areas too.

MacEwen said Canada has proposed language on things like pay equity, child care and women in trades in the preamble to the labour chapter, although they are not hard obligations.

“Canada doesn’t have pay equity, so we wouldn’t be in compliance with the chapter, but it does talk about the importance of moving towards it,” she said.

David MacNaughton, the Canadian ambassador to the U.S., said he expects gender equality to come up during the third round of NAFTA negotiations beginning Saturday in Ottawa.

He also suggested previous talks revealed the Americans are not yet convinced.

“They didn’t immediately sign on,” he said.

Dan Ujczo, an international trade lawyer specializing in Canada-U.S. matters, said there is some concern a chapter on gender could have unintended consequences.

“Can these virtues turn into venom?” said Ujczo.

The concern is that language on parental leave, for example, be used to challenge labour and employment laws in the U.S. that do not grant a year of paid parental leave, which is available in Canada.

“Could some of these broadly worded provisions then be used to attack otherwise legitimate federal and state laws in the U.S.?” said Ujczo, who is with the cross-border firm Dickinson Wright, in Columbus, Ohio.

That is why Ujczo said he thinks Canada will need to put significant effort into reassuring the U.S. administration of President Donald Trump the gender chapter will not be enforceable.

That raises another question.

“An agreement without enforcement is just an agreement to agree and so really, what’s the point?” he asked.

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BMD and Canada

‘A big joke’: Only imperfect U.S. defences can save Canada from North Korean missiles

Published Tuesday, September 19, 2017 6:26AM EDT

If North Korea launched a dozen nuclear weapons at North America the U.S. missile defences probably would not be able to stop them all, and they wouldn’t be required to defend Canada, either.

Canada currently has no means of defending against an incoming intercontinental ballistic missile, and no formal guarantee that the United States would use its missile defences on Canada’s behalf. In fact, Canada declined to work with the United States on its missile defence program in 2005, and has not reversed course under subsequent Liberal and Conservative governments. And with North Korea now claiming it can strike a target anywhere in the continental U.S., Canada is technically defenceless against such an attack.

“It’s a big joke,” said Christian Leuprecht, a political science professor at the Royal Military College of Canada and senior fellow at the Macdonald Laurier Institute. “Canada is too vulnerable in not buying into ballistic missile defence,” he told CTVNews.ca.

Leuprecht points out that the U.S. and Canada have an information-sharing agreement in place through their participation in the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD. However, that agreement does not include a specific plan for dealing with a missile headed toward Canada.

In other words, Canadian military personnel at NORAD might be able to spot an incoming missile, but the decision to try and shoot that missile down rests entirely with the Americans.

NORAD’s Canadian deputy commander, Lt.-Gen Pierre St-Amand, echoed that sentiment in September, saying that under the current policy the U.S. would not come to Canada’s defence.

“It’s not that Canada is a target, but the danger  is… if those missiles are coming over the pole, they may be aimed at Chicago but they wind up in Toronto,” Colin Robertson, vice president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, said on CTV News Channel Sept. 14.

NORAD

The Charlie crew, made up of U.S. and Canadian military personnel, work the night shift Jan. 18, 2006, at the NORAD command center in Cheyenne Mountain, Colo. (AP / Denver Post, John Epperson)

But arms control expert and UBC political science professor Allen Sens says the direct threat to Canada is a “red herring,” because the Americans would likely shoot down an incoming missile anyway.

“When a missile is in its flightpath, it’s difficult to determine exactly where it’s going to land,” Sens, of the University of British Columbia, told CTVNews.ca. Sens also cast doubt on the notion that the U.S. would back off with its missile defences once it learned that the weapon was headed for Canada.

“The Americans don’t want a missile to hit Canada because the Americans could be impacted,” he said.

The North Korean threat has renewed debate in Ottawa over whether Canada should participate in the U.S. missile defence program. Canada’s recently-released defence policy does not specifically address missile defence, although it does acknowledge the dangers of North Korea’s burgeoning arsenal.

“The number of countries with access to ballistic missile technology, including some with the potential to reach North America or target Canadian and allied deployed forces, has increased and is expected to grow and become more sophisticated,” the policy says.

Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan has said the missile defence issue will be revisited as part of efforts to modernize NORAD.

“We’re going to have a much more thorough discussion with the U.S. on this,” Sajjan told CTV’s Question Period in June.

Those who oppose missile defence argue that it can be a cause for escalation, prompting rival countries to build more nukes so they can maintain the ability to overwhelm American defences. Essentially, greater defences call for greater offensive capabilities.

With the political debate only just ramping up, Leuprecht says it’s unclear what it would cost for Canada to buy into missile defence. “Technologically, no additional material would be required,” he said.

However, it is possible that the U.S. would ask Canada to pay for it, Leuprecht said.

And as many experts have pointed out, the primary U.S. missile defence system simply can’t guarantee protection with its success rate of just 55 per cent in controlled tests.

How the U.S. missile defence system works

Although it’s often characterized as a “shield,” the United States isn’t actually protected by some kind of sci-fi force field. Instead, it relies on missiles intended to intercept and destroy incoming intercontinental ballistic missiles before they detonate over a populated area.

The flight of an incoming missile is broken down into three stages.

The first stage is called the boost phase, during which the enemy ICBM takes off from its launch site, shedding its boosters one at a time as their fuel is expended. The missile is particularly vulnerable at this stage, as it spends about four minutes to work itself up to a speed of about 24,000 kilometres per hour. This is the best time to shoot it down, but since these launches usually occur in enemy territory and without warning, it can be difficult to detect it and respond to it in time, Leuprecht says.

Next comes the midcourse phase, which can last up to 20 minutes. During this phase the missile starts coasting up toward the peak of its arc (approximately 1,000 kilometres up).This is when the warhead might also release decoys to confuse any attempt to intercept the real nuke.

The missile’s final descent toward its target is known as the terminal phase, and usually only lasts about two minutes.

How a three-stage ICBM works

The U.S. missile defence system, perhaps best described as trying to stop an enemy bullet by shooting it with another bullet, uses short- and medium-range missiles. Each of these defensive missiles is a single-booster rocket used to deploy a “kill vehicle,” which manoeuvres itself into a collision course with incoming warheads so it can destroy them on impact.

how ballistic missile interceptors work

The system uses radar posts and satellite imagery to constantly update the kill vehicle’s trajectory, despite its travelling at supersonic speeds.

Radar

In this photograph provided by Boeing, the Sea-Based X-Band Radar, a key component of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency’s Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, completes sea trial testing in the Gulf of Mexico July 16, 2005. (AP / Missile Defense Agency)

Most of the Americans’ missile defences are geared toward intercepting missiles in the midcourse or terminal phases, with various weapons systems providing overlapping coverage to defend the North American coast and America’s Asian allies.

Aegis

This file photo from May 10, 2012, shows a test of the Aegis missile defence system aboard the USS Lake Erie. (AP / Missile Defense Agency)

The Ground-based Midcourse Defence (GMD) system based in Alaska and California offers long-range intercept capability during the midcourse and terminal phases, while sea-based Aegis missiles and land-based PAC-3 missiles provide back-up defence during the terminal phase.

The Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system is also designed to take out incoming missiles in the terminal phase, although it’s geared more toward short- and medium-range attacks against Japan, Guam or South Korea.

Leuprecht says this overlapping system might be quite effective at taking down a single incoming missile, because it can make numerous attempts at intercepting an ICBM before it strikes. But if North Korea were to launch a dozen missiles, for instance, there would be no way to ensure they were all shot down.

“The North Koreans are working on the ability to overwhelm those missile defence shields,” he said.

Poking holes in the U.S. defence ‘shield’

The Americans currently have THAAD defences deployed in South Korea and Guam, Aegis missiles on their destroyers in the Pacific, and at least 36 GMD missiles ready to launch from bases in Alaska and California.

However, defence experts don’t agree about the effectiveness of the American missile defence system. Some say the testing process is not scientifically sound, while others stand by the official results released by the U.S. military.

The Americans’ cutting-edge THAAD system is considered the best element of their arsenal, with a perfect 15-15 testing record. However, those trials were conducted under controlled non-combat conditions, and are geared toward shooting down shorter-range missiles that might strike at North Korea’s neighbours.

THAAD

The THAAD missile defence system is seen at a golf course in Seongju, South Korea, Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017. (Kim Jun-beom/Yonhap via AP)

The U.S. Ground-Based Midcourse Defence system has only taken out 10 of 18 targets in tests since 1999 – a result that leaves much to be desired, especially when imagining a nuclear weapon on the end of an incoming ICBM.

GMD

This image provided by the U.S. Air Force shows the successful launch Friday Sept. 28, 2007 of an intercontinental ballistic missile interceptor at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. (AP / USAF / Joe Davila)

The Pentagon acknowledged this shortcoming in a 2016 report, which concluded that the GMD system “demonstrated a limited capability to defend the U.S. homeland from small numbers of simple intermediate-range or intercontinental ballistic missile threats launched from North Korea or Iran.”

According to the report, the GMD failed its tests for a variety of reasons, while radar availability was also found to be an issue with its effectiveness. “The reliability and availability of the (ground-based interceptors) are low,” the Pentagon said.

Leuprecht says the U.S. system leaves something to be desired, but that’s intentional. He says it must be able to defend against North Korea or Iran, but not against nuclear superpowers such as China or Russia, because peace with those nations is partially built on the awareness that both sides could destroy each other in a nuclear conflict.

“The system can defend against North Korea, but the system can’t defend against the Russians,” Leuprecht said. “It’s mutually assured destruction.”

He added that North Korea is working on the ability to overwhelm the U.S. missile defence shield with sheer numbers, but it remains a long way off from that goal.

However, North Korea’s more immediate neighbours in Japan and South Korea are not so safe.

PAC3

The Japanese Air Self-Defense Force demonstrates the training to utilize the PAC-3 surface-to-air interceptors at the U.S. Yokota Air Base in Fussa, on the outskirts of Tokyo Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017. (AP / Eugene Hoshiko)

Leuprecht says the North is already fully capable of annihilating the South Korean capital of Seoul, regardless of whether or not it uses nuclear weapons. The North has been perfecting its short- and medium-range missiles for years, and could easily overwhelm the THAAD system in South Korea with those weapons.

“That would mean 10 million dead in the first hour of a conflict,” Leuprecht said.

That threat has existed on the Korean peninsula for years, but what Kim Jong Un really wants is to extend the threat to include North America.

He adds that, if North Korea ever did strike at North America, NATO’s member nations would all be drawn into the conflict. “They know,” he said. “If there’s a missile that flies toward North America, it’s going to be ‘all in.’”

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Can Trump pull USA from NAFTA

Can Donald Trump pull the U.S. out of NAFTA all on his own?

Some lawyers say withdrawal without congressional approval would be unconstitutional, but the politics of the play might be another matter

CHARLESTON, WV - MAY 05: United States Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump models a hard hat in support of the miners during his rally at the Charleston Civic Center on May 5, 2016 in Charleston, West Virginia. Trump became the Republican presumptive nominee following his landslide win in indiana on Tuesday.(Photo by Mark Lyons/Getty Images)

Listening to President Donald Trump, or reading his Twitter musings, sure leaves the impression he claims unfettered power to yank the United States clear of the North American Free Trade Agreement whenever he feels like it. “I think we’ll end up probably terminating NAFTA at some point, okay?” Trump said in a rambling late-summer speech in Phoenix. He followed up with this classic Trumpian Tweet: “We are in the NAFTA (worst trade deal ever made) renegotiation process with Mexico & Canada. Both being very difficult, may have to terminate?”

A superficial reading of NAFTA lends some support to the notion that Trump might have the power to act on his bluster. The deal among Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, which came into force in 1994, does include Article 2205, which lets any of the three countries back out on six-months notice. And, since U.S. presidents have broad power over foreign affairs, that might seem to be Trump’s clause to trigger. Indeed, some trade experts read it that way—but others see it differently.

READ MORE: NAFTA: A brief historyFor instance, Riyaz Dattu, of the law firm Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt in Toronto, says Trump’s problem is that while presidents negotiate trade deals, Congress passes the laws to make them a reality in the U.S. “President Trump would have to get Congress to repeal the [NAFTA] provisions that were written into U.S. law,” Dattu says. He concedes, though, that the potential clash over presidential and congressional clout when it comes to quitting a trade deal is “an area that has not been tested.” Trade and constitutional lawyers on both sides of the border agree that if Trump tried to act unilaterally, a court battle would likely ensue, perhaps ending up in the U.S. Supreme Court.

That assumes, however, sufficient political will among Trump’s foes to fight him over NAFTA. Colin Robertson, a former diplomat with long experience in the U.S., who has analyzed the new NAFTA talks in depth for the Ottawa-based Canadian Global Affairs Institute, predicts Trump would carry the day. “In a practical sense, if he says, ‘I’m pulling the plug,’ I don’t think there will be enough pressure in Congress to question his authority,” he says.

RELATED: NAFTA: What each country wants out of a new deal

Still, Robertson says potent U.S. domestic forces have already pulled Trump back from the brink once when he was close to trying to exit the agreement on his own say-so alone. When his administration was approaching its 100th day in power last April, rumours spread that he was contemplating a hasty NAFTA withdrawal. The U.S. farm lobby weighed in with the White House against that precipitous move, Robertson says, and succeeded. NAFTA supporters hope that if Trump again came close to abrogating, domestic forces would rally once more rally to persuade him to retreat.

If not, the question of Trump’s unilateral power to turn his anti-NAFTA rhetoric into reality will stop being an intriguing debating point for lawyers, and turn into a matter of massive real-world implications for a continental economy.

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NAFTA Negotiaions

Colin Robertson was also on CGTN to give the Canadian perspective on how NAFTA renegotiation may turn out:

Colin_Aug_25_2.JPG
You can watch that interview Here.

Colin Robertson joined CTV News Network to give commentary on the first round of NAFTA talks:

Colin_Aug_25.JPG
You can watch that interview Here.

Provincial News

Support within U.S. key to successful NAFTA renegotiation

  • Corwyn Friesen, mySteinbach
  • Posted on 08/21/2017 at 11:00 am

The Vice President of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute says strong American support for NAFTA, particularly within the agricultural community, will play an important role in the renegotiation of agreement.

Canadian, U,S. and Mexican negotiators completed the first round of talks yesterday aimed at revamping North American Free Trade Agreement.

Colin Robertson, the Vice President and a Fellow of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, says strong support within the United States for the agreement will be an important factor.

What ever agreement that the Trump Administration negotiates will be subject to an up or down vote in the American Congress, in the House of Representatives and the Senate so it is important for us and we have made a sustained effort along with the Mexicans over the past six months to remind Americans at the local level why trade with Canada works for Americans.

We start of with what is Mr. Trump’s principal objective and that’s to create jobs. We point out that the Canada, United States, Mexico agreement accounts for roughly 14 million jobs in the United States. The trade with Canada and Mexico makes that possible.

Most Americans have not appreciated that fact but now we’re reminding them on a kind of daily basis and certainty we use every occasion when a minister or a legislator or a premier and this has been an all of Canada effort to do so. It’s not just been the federal government ministers that have been going down to the United States.

It’s been also Premiers, provincial legislators, business persons and those in the farm community for example have been very diligent over the last few years in working the various farm bureaus and going to state fairs just to remind them that trade with Canada creates wealth and jobs in the United States.

~ Colin Robertson, Canadian Global Affairs Institute

Robertson observes we have had a very good response from the Americans. He notes the Governor of Nebraska, during a recent visit to Canada, pointed out Canada is the number one export market for 35 American states.

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