Freeland, Lighthizer return to NAFTA table today as new deadline looms

Donald Trump

U.S. Trade czar Robert Lighthizer has argued there's a legitimate case for some cultural exceptions, but that "the cultural exemption is very often just cultural protectionism".

The U.S.is pushing for to lower high tariffs on dairy, which can run up to 270 percent, and changes to the dispute resolution mechanism in NAFTA's Chapter 19.

Canada's top NAFTA negotiator Chrystia Freeland, the foreign affairs minister, will return to Washington on Wednesday for a second week of talks over staying in a revamped pact.

Foreign companies seeking relief through Canada's Federal Court of Appeal are often repeatedly coming up empty handed, said Todgham Cherniak, a former federal tax court adviser.

But despite the public optimism, negotiators face a tough task ahead.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took a dig at Trump Wednesday.

Trump is embarking on a high-stakes gamble, cutting a deal with Mexico first, in hopes of forcing Canada to acquiesce.

Last week, the United States and Mexico reached an agreement in principle on a new free trade arrangement, and President Donald Trump said he will terminate NAFTA.

Talks broke off last Friday and resumed Wednesday. The United States and Mexico reached an agreement on overhauling NAFTA at the beginning of last week, turning up the pressure on Canada to agree to new terms. If we don't make a fair deal for the USA after decades of abuse, Canada will be out.

Mexican officials stressed in a joint statement that they are "continuing to promote an agreement to which Canada is a party".

Veuger also notes that Canada is deepening its trade relationship with Beijing in part by expanding its oil and gas exports to China.

"We are going to continue to negotiate in good faith", he said, adding he believes a "win-win-win" outcome is possible for the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.

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The Americans and Mexicans are in a hurry to sign a deal before USA midterm elections in November and the transfer of power to Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador the following month.

Canadian and USA officials also face tough bargaining in any NAFTA end game.

But his woes were compounded by uncertainty over NAFTA after the United States concluded separate negotiations with Mexico.

The North American vehicle industry is a sum of parts made and assembled in Mexico, the US and Canada.

Trudeau on Wednesday insisted that Canada would work to maintain a dispute settlement process in the deal, provisions that the US prefers to ditch.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he wanted a deal that protects his country from. He told an Alberta radio station that Canada would insist on keeping a NAFTA provision for settling disputes "because that ensures that the rules are actually followed. I mean, we have a president who doesn't always follow the rules as they're laid out", Trudeau said in the interview. It wouldn't be good for our identity.

Another hot topic is dairy products.

The Trump vitriol aimed at Canada over the weekend also put pressure on Trudeau not to bend to US demands even if economists warn a collapse of NAFTA could be very damaging to the Canadian economy.

The US business sector strongly prefers that NAFTA remain a trilateral agreement.

"There's big time risk here, but most are still expecting a deal to get done", Reitzes wrote as he referenced the apparent month-end deadline for NAFTA negotiations.

While much remains uncertain about the details of what Trump calls the "U.S. -Mexico Free Trade Agreement" - which may not receive congressional approval if the Democrats reclaim the House in November - some things are relatively clear. As the process grinds on, some in Washington insist Trump can not pull out of NAFTA without the approval of Congress. "The president can not pull America out of NAFTA without Congress's permission", Wyden said. But it makes up a small amount of all the goods traded between the two countries.

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