From labour standards to cutting red tape: Canada outlines broad NAFTA goals

Lester Mason
August 15, 2017

Canada is getting tough on North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations ahead of Wednesday's meeting on the issue, suggesting it could leave the trade agreement if the US insists on changes to a dispute settlement mechanism.

They include opening more access to government procurement, freeing up professional mobility, protecting Canadian rights to supply management and reform of the investor-state dispute settlement process to ensure governments maintain their right to regulate in the public interest.

The Trump administration has set a collision course with the auto industry as it launches renegotiations of the 23-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) this week.

"In all these discussions, we will come to the table with goodwill, and Canada's characteristic ability and willingness to seek compromise and find win-win solutions", she said.

"Progressive elements are also important if you want a free-trade deal that's also a fair-trade deal", Freeland said in a question-and-answer session following the speech at University of Ottawa.

The first round of negotiations will take place over four days from Wednesday in Washington.

His aim, which seeks to "ensure the rules of origin incentivise the sourcing of goods and materials from the U.S. and North America", has raised concerns among auto executives and trade groups that he will seek a deal that guarantees a certain percentage of production for the US.

Among the conditions that US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer may seek is strengthening the rules of origin to shut out more parts from Asia.

Freeland warned that Canadians should brace for some tense exchanges during the NAFTA talks.

She also points out that Canada has done this before, when the Liberal government added a chapter on gender to its free trade deal with Chile.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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