As Canada, the United States and Mexico have worked to negotiate a new version of NAFTA, the focus has primarily been on whether the countries can find enough middle ground to get a deal done.
But even if they can, one former Conservative cabinet minister is warning that there could be more hurdles ahead.
“The ability of a NAFTA 2.0 to be negotiated is one thing, but for it to be affirmed through the legislative process of all three governments is a very different story,” said James Moore, now serving as a member of Canada’s NAFTA advisory council.
The deal, once done, will need to be ratified by each government, something that should be relatively easy in Canada since the Liberals hold a majority in the House of Commons and have strong support on NAFTA from the Conservative benches.
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But the Mexicans are in the midst of a nomination process as the country gears up for a presidential election this summer, Moore noted, while American politicians have their eyes on the fall midterm elections.
Getting a massive new trade agreement through the notoriously challenging American political process, when even some Republicans might object to the final deal, is “very much a long-term project,” Moore told host Eric Sorensen.
Still, President Donald Trump has shown signs he wants an agreement in principle in hand before the summer, so he can use it to woo voters in the rust-belt states.
“I think there’s more than enough here in a reformed NAFTA for Donald Trump to go back to those states and say, ‘We tackled NAFTA and we did substantive reforms to NAFTA’ … in a way that will benefit the American working man,” Moore explained.
The latest round of talks took place in Washington late last week, with Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland refusing to disclose any new details about the status of the negotiations. There have been signs that the parties are getting closer to an agreement, however.
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Meanwhile, Trump has turned his focus toward China. The president is defending stiff new tariffs by arguing that the U.S. has “already lost” the trade war with China.
“I think that’s good news for Canada,” Moore said. “It means that the dynamic with NAFTA could well be something that President Trump has sort of realized is actually to the American interest.”
Watch the full interview with James Moore above.
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