Published: Thu, January 11, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Canadian officials see rising odds that Trump will leave NAFTA

Canadian officials see rising odds that Trump will leave NAFTA

Canada is bracing for a possible U.S. withdrawal from the tripartite North American Free Trade Agreement, a source said on Wednesday, ahead of the next round of negotiations due to start in Montreal later this month.

The sources said they expected Trump would make his move at about the same time that negotiators from the United States, Canada and Mexico meet in late January for the sixth and penultimate round of talks to modernize the treaty.

The concern about Trump's withdrawal from the free trade deal comes as the three signatories - the U.S., Canada and Mexico - are renegotiating the terms of NAFTA, which was signed into law by former U.S. President Bill Clinton in 1993.

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The three NAFTA countries are set to meet for a sixth round of negotiations later in January, and Trump has maintained if the USA can't get a better deal, he will withdraw from the pact completely.

Canadian officials are quick to point out in their meetings with USA politicians that America has an $86 billion trade surplus with Canada, even though the US has rising trade deficits - meaning it purchases more than it exports - with many other nations, including Mexico.

The comments have raised worries the Nafta countries - the US, Canada and Mexico, who trade more than US$1 trillion annually - are further apart on coming to an agreement than feared.

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U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer was quick to label Canada's complaint as bad for the bilateral relationship. Canada has been pushing Nafta's United States defenders to speak up to save the pact - the officials' comments Wednesday may add domestic pressure on Mr Trump to not issue the withdrawal notice.

As word of the news spread, the Canadian dollar fell 0.8 percent to CAN$1.2567, its lowest level of the year. A party's withdrawal takes effect six months after it provides written notice to the other member countries.

"It's under negotiation as we speak", he said. The Canadian officials said Wednesday they weren't sure how Mexico would react to any withdrawal notice but that Canada would keep negotiating after one was given.

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"On NAFTA, I am working very hard to get a better deal for our country and for our farmers and for our manufacturers", Trump said during a speech at the American Farm Bureau Federation convention in Nashville, Tenn., Monday.

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