Report from Parliament Hill:
Patience must be exercised in NAFTA negotiations
Bob Nault, MP, Kenora Riding
“Simply put, NAFTA is a business deal and we have to keep emotions out of it.”
As many of you know, Canada is in the midst of negotiations with the United States and Mexico to work on modernizing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). These talks are going to be difficult and lengthy, but Canada continues to put forth a very strong position: to remain steadfast in securing a fair agreement to promote economic growth and to continue to defend the best interests of Canadians.
Canada and the United States have built the most peaceful and mutually beneficial partnership in the world. It continues to be one of the most envied and enduring relationships because of the determination of our leaders, both past and present. Because of this, I am confident that we can reach an agreement that continues to support millions of jobs in both countries.
Recently, as Chair of Canada’s Foreign Affairs Committee, I led an all-party delegation of parliamentary representatives on a trip to Mexico City, New York City, and Washington, DC. During this time, the Committee met with politicians, negotiators, and stakeholders to get a sense of how talks were developing. The recurring message we heard in both Mexico and the US was that Canada is a valued trading partner and that NAFTA is a good deal for all countries.
In speaking with members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senators in Washington, it was apparent they are operating in a new and complicated political landscape: special investigations, tax reform, tense relationships with foreign countries, seemingly one crisis after another, have changed the political arena. Many on Capitol Hill don’t view NAFTA negotiations as a crisis yet, so their concentration remains primarily on domestic matters, such as tax reform.
While softwood lumber is not specifically connected to NAFTA, Canada’s commitment to the industry will continue to be demonstrated throughout these negotiations. Softwood lumber is of vital importance as it provides thousands of jobs and is a lynchpin in our riding. Earlier this year, the federal government invested close to $1 billion in support of the forestry industry to combat the unfair duties imposed by the U.S. Our objective is clear, and we continue to insist that any agreement reached with our neighbours to the south must be mutually beneficial.
Simply put, NAFTA is a business deal and we have to keep emotions out of it. We have to negotiate aggressively, and push back when necessary, while being mindful that there are a variety of politics at play in our partner countries. It’s clear that we all agree that NAFTA needs to be modernized; however I believe that we don’t have to rush just to try and get a deal. It’s also my view that if one party has a winner-take-all attitude then it’s not going to work. I can assure you that Canada remains committed to reaching an agreement that is good for our country, for our businesses, and for long-term stable economic growth.