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Canada Suggests it Could Quit NAFTA Talks
USAgNet - 08/15/2017

Canada laid down a tough line ahead of talks on modernizing NAFTA on Monday, suggesting it could walk away if the United States pushed to remove a key dispute-settlement mechanism in the trade deal.

Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, giving the most substantive outline yet of Canada's goals, said she was "very optimistic" the negotiations would be a success, reports Reuters.

North American Free Trade Agreement members Canada, Mexico and the United States hold their first session in Washington on Wednesday.

Canada, heavily reliant on exports to the United States, opposes Washington's push to scrap the so-called Chapter 19 dispute settlement mechanism, under which binational panels make binding decisions on complaints about illegal subsidies and dumping. The United States has frequently lost such cases.

Noting that Canada had withdrawn its chief negotiator from 1987 talks on a bilateral trade treaty with the United States over the same issue, Freeland said "our government will be equally resolute."

Freeland later sidestepped reporters' questions about whether maintaining Chapter 19 was a make-or-break issue for Canada, saying she would let her U.S. counterparts know how important the matter was to Ottawa.

Trade among the three nations has quadrupled since NAFTA came into effect in 1994, surpassing $1 trillion in 2015. But U.S. President Donald Trump regularly calls the treaty a disaster and has threatened to walk away from it unless major changes are made, citing U.S. job losses and a trade deficit with Mexico.

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