Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: In New NAFTA Round, Talk Won't Be Cheap

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: In New NAFTA Round, Talk Won't Be Cheap

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: In new NAFTA round, talk won't be cheap

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An editorial from the Winnipeg Free Press, published July 19:

This, like most things related to the United States of America these days, will not be easy.

This week's release of the U.S.'s list of priorities for the upcoming renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement made it clear that under the watch of U.S. President Donald Trump, the "America First" attitude is expected to prevail.

Any notion that our country might similarly employ a "Canada First" approach, or that America's southern neighbour might be so bold as to suggest "Mexico First" as a preferred strategy for Mexicans will, of course, be viewed as pure silliness by the American side.

Mr. Trump, who has continually referred to NAFTA as "a disaster" since early in his presidential campaign, is determined to level the playing field for America -- although, as he said in a speech this week, "if the playing field were slanted, like, a little bit toward us, I'd accept that, also."

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer released his 18-page document on Monday, unveiling more than 100 negotiating objectives the U.S. intends to pursue in the NAFTA renegotiation, which could begin as soon as Aug. 16 (under U.S. law, trade objectives must be published 30 days in advance of negotiations to allow Congress to provide feedback before talks begin).

Of primary concern for Canadians is the U.S. demand for the elimination of NAFTA's Chapter 19, which requires a binational panel to hear complaints about perceived unfair trade. These panels issue binding decisions, which have tended not to fall in America's favour; the elimination of Chapter 19 would force Canadian companies to fight unfair-trade accusations in U.S. courts.

In keeping with the insular approach of the nascent but struggling Trump administration, the NAFTA priority list demands greater opportunities for American companies to bid on public contracts in Canada and Mexico, while at the same time declaring that the U. …

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