Gap between Canada and the US on NAFTA still remains as negotiations continue.
There are reports that the United States is considering the possibility of signing a separate NAFTA deal with Mexico, concluding negotiations with that country even as negotiations continue with Canada.
According to the CP, “The United States trade czar is expressing frustration with Canada in the NAFTA negotiations, even floating the idea of concluding a quick agreement with Mexico and sorting out a deal with Canada later, according to an American lawmaker who attended a meeting with him Wednesday. Ron Kind is one of numerous congressmen who attended a rare briefing on Capitol Hill with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who Kind said brought up the notion of splitting the NAFTA negotiations as a way of advancing the talks.”
Kind, a Democrat from Wisconsin, said “He thinks more progress has been made with Mexico. And that there might be a way to wrap things up and down and just maintain ongoing negotiations with Canada at that point,” adding “He would not be dissatisfied with just doing a bilateral with Mexico and continuing negotiations (with Canada).”
While floating such a move may be a negotiating tactic, it also shows how wide the gap between Canada and the US remains on NAFTA talks.
After all, the US and Mexico have far larger areas of long-term disagreement than Canada and the US. Additionally, both Canada and the US have seen tons of manufacturing jobs get shipped down to Mexico, including in the auto industry.
In theory, Canada and the US should have had a significant amount of common ground when it comes to concern over Mexico’s lack of labour protections, low wages, and lack of environmental laws.
Instead, Canada and the US remain far apart, and Mexico may be able to leverage that distance to their own benefit.
If that’s how it goes, it would represent a massive shift from the expectations that existed when NAFTA renegotiation was first brought up, as it was seen as a potential disaster for Mexico, and less focused on the trading relationship between Canada and the US.
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