NAFTA Negotiations May Be Reaching A Quiet But Successful Conclusion

REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

David Krayden Ottawa Bureau Chief
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Just a month ago, hopes for a renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement were dim; this week, there’s talk of compromise and movement.

As the Canadian Press reports, Canadian Ambassador to the U.S. David MacNaughton, who has been severely critical of the U.S.’s aggressive posture and President Donald Trump’s rhetoric, was singing a different tune on Tuesday, declaring a new-found sense of optimism.

MacNaughton says the U.S. appears ready to compromise on its position that every North American-manufactured vehicle contain American-made content. This has been the largest area of divergence between Canada and the U.S. and the cross-border proliferation of auto plants.

Though MacNaughton remains cautious, he told reporters at a Tuesday new conference that the American negotiating team is demonstrating a renewed flexibility. “They came back with some ideas that if you take them to their logical conclusion would mean that you wouldn’t need that [American content] requirement,” MacNaughton said.

“They put some interesting ideas on the table…which were actually quite creative. To which we sort of said, ‘Yeah, we can work with that.’… Did we get to somewhere where you could shake hands and say, ‘We’ve got a deal?’ Absolutely not… Whether or not we can get there I don’t know. But I took it as being a positive thing that they had another way of getting at that issue.”

MacNaughton promised to “meet seven days a week, 24 hours a day to make as much progress as we can.”

Canadian Press also reports that Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister spent last week in quiet but fruitful discussion with Trump’s trade representative, Robert Lighthizer. The two shocked the diplomatic world when they conducted a news conference last October that degenerated into mutual accusations.

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