Trudeau: No agreement on NAFTA does not include a mechanism to resolve trade disputes

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his country would not budge from its negotiations with Washington and would not sign a new deal on NAFTA if it did not include a mechanism to resolve trade disputes.

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Canadian Foreign Minister Christia Freeland

“We have said from the start that we need a mechanism to resolve conflicts such as Chapter 19 and the cultural exclusion clause, and we will not budge,” Trudeau said in Wankover on Tuesday night on the eve of the resumption of talks with the United States.

“We will not sign a bad deal for the Canadians, and frankly, the absence of Chapter 19, which guarantees the rules will be a bad thing for Canadians,” he said.

“It is unthinkable for Canadians that an American media can buy a Canadian media, be it a newspaper or a television group,” Trudeau said.

“This would be a concession of our sovereignty and identity, which is simply unacceptable. That is why we have said very clearly that defending cultural exclusion is a fundamental issue for Canadians,” he said.

Trudeau confirmed that the team of Canadian negotiators led by Secretary of State Christia Freeland would return to Washington on Wednesday for negotiations that he hoped would be “constructive”.

Negotiations between Washington and Ottawa last week over the modernization of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) were strained by US President Donald Trump's insistence that he refused to make any concessions, prompting the parties to delay talks a few days.

One of the thorniest issues in these negotiations is whether to maintain in the new agreement a mechanism to arbitrate trade disputes between treaty partners, as stipulated in Chapter 19 of the 1994 agreement. While Americans want to get rid of this mechanism, Canadians want to keep it.

The two countries are also opposed to another issue, the “cultural exception” that Canadians hold and the Americans want to get rid of, as this provision provides protection especially for the cultural production and audiovisual sectors in Canada.

More than a year ago Trump unilaterally imposed on Canada and Mexico to renegotiate NAFTA, saying the agreement was “disastrous” for the US economy and caused a major trade deficit with Mexico of $ 63.6 billion in 2017.

Source: Agencies

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