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NAFTA changes could benefit Canada and US, ambassador says

Canada's Ambassador to the United States David MacNaughton says he's cautiously optimistic about changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement after Monday's meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump.
Canada's Ambassador to the United States David MacNaughton says he's cautiously optimistic about changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement after Monday's meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Canada’s ambassador to Washington says he’s cautiously optimistic about changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement after Monday’s meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump.

David MacNaughton says he sat in on the meeting — and says the conversation was about making changes that would be beneficial to both Canada and the United States.

READ MORE: No definitive answers after Justin Trudeau, Donald Trump comments on trade

He says it’s been that way in numerous meetings with the White House and, before that, the Trump transition team over the last several months.

After a meeting Monday with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Trump described the trade relationship with Canada as outstanding, saying he only wants a few tweaks in an upgraded NAFTA.

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But the ambassador adds one word of caution: It’s hard to know exactly what the new administration will ask for, because the Trump cabinet has yet to have its commerce and trade secretaries confirmed by Congress.

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READ MORE: CETA: Canada and Europe hail trade deal amid Trump-era protectionist sentiment

As a result, MacNaughton describes the current one-sided trade conversation as a bit like “shadow-boxing.”

He also expressed optimism that there will eventually be a beneficial resolution to differences over so-called Buy American restrictions on foreign companies competing for U.S. infrastructure projects.

The countries issued a statement after the Trudeau-Trump meeting that included a vague reference to the countries working together on construction.

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