He said back in 1994, Canada had a surplus of $50 billion a year in trade.
“So if I had been trapped in negotiations, it would been a different circumstance, more difficult for me,” Chretien said.
“Now they (the U.S.) have no surplus. They sell as much to us as we sell to them.”
Chretien said both sides will benefit in the end even though some sectors will win and others will lose.
He added that Americans have always been difficult to negotiate with for softwood lumber and dairy and that it’s not uncommon in such negotiations for agreements to be signed on the last day.
Chretien made the comments in Saskatoon on Wednesday where he was taking part in the University of Saskatchewan’s Canada 150 speaker’s series.
He was interviewed by university chancellor, and former Saskatchewan premier, Roy Romanow, followed by a question and answer session with the audience.
Romanow will also be interviewing former prime ministers Kim Campbell and Paul Martin as part of the series.
With files from The Canadian Press