Hundreds of workers in Montreal demonstrate for better NAFTA deal

The decision by Cuevas head of the Senate’s foreign relations committee represents a win for Lopez Obrador as he seeks to oust the ruling PRI

The decision by Cuevas head of the Senate’s foreign relations committee represents a win for Lopez Obrador as he seeks to oust the ruling PRI

In her panel discussion, Freeland said Nafta talks will be a success if they cut red tape and lead to more companies taking advantage of the accord, as 40 percent of Canadian exporters to the US don't bother using Nafta because of the regulatory burden.

Canadian chief negotiator Steve Verheul described the mood at the talks as "still reasonably constructive" and said the US side would take the auto proposals back to Washington. USA agriculture depends on access to worldwide markets in which to sell their products.

While President Donald Trump had been appearing to soften his anti-NAFTA stance and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue sought to ease farmers' fears of losing two of their biggest markets, Trump last week put out a Twitter statement that ended with "NAFTA is a bad joke!"

He said negotiators needed to listen to what Trump had promised to achieve in NAFTA reform, and try to interpret that in a way that did as little damage as possible, with a scope and time frame that was manageable for business.

The three countries are meeting in Montreal for their sixth round of NAFTA talks.

"We have been working tirelessly to assure that top priority issues for the dairy products industry are reflected in trade policy and the development of the next farm bill", said Dave Carlin, IDFA senior vice president of economic policy & legislative affairs. Trade is going to be for the next 40 years. He told analysts during a conference call Thursday he was "encouraged" by events unfolding in Montreal, but warned of broader economic repercussions if the US pressed ahead with demands in an effort to get factories in Mexico to relocate to the U.S.

Canada's chief negotiator, Steve Verheul, told reporters talks were "reasonably constructive", without elaborating.

Canada hopes its offer will encourage the moderate its demands, according to an official. Withdrawing the USA from that deal was one of Trump's first acts in office. "Canada-U.S. trade has grown hugely over the time of NAFTA". Canadian tariffs on dairy products average a whopping 250 percent, so clearly there is room for improvement.

California would be hit the hardest in terms of job losses.

It also insists that 50 percent of the content of every vehicle produced in the region come from the United States, an option that Canada and Mexico have dismissed as unworkable. China, Germany, Japan and Korea would see job gains, with China getting an additional 2 million jobs.

"Something the Trump administration can call a victory, something for the American worker, that doesn't damage the economies of North America", Wilson said, but then added: "I don't think there's a clear vision of what a win looks like that doesn't involve a withdrawal".

Automakers and their suppliers are anxious that the US demands will cause the 24-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement to collapse, or render its tariff-free benefits unusable. The U.S. side also wants to junk the pact's dispute-settlement mechanism, which enables Canada and Mexico to challenge American anti-dumping duties, and insert a sunset clause forcing the pact to expire after five years unless all parties agree to renew it.

The coming days could clarify that as Canada reaches out with ideas intended as an olive branch on two of the most acrimonious topics of the NAFTA negotiations: the rules for autos, and those for resolving disputes.

Mexican deputy economy minister Juan Carlos Baker hit back at the idea that progress was slow. Canada will sign the deal, a government source told Reuters.

"The first thing that we'll do is talk to him about this and what was the rationale of imposing and including Mexico in these measures", Guajardo said.

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