Freeland heading to Washington after Trump announces plans to scrap NAFTA
Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland will travel to Washington, D.C. Tuesday to revive trade talks with the United States.
“As we have said all along, progress between Mexico and the United States is a necessary requirement for any renewed NAFTA agreement,” a spokesperson for the minister said in a statement emailed to Global News.
“Given the encouraging announcement today of further bilateral progress between the U.S. and Mexico, Minister Freeland will travel to Washington, D.C., tomorrow to continue negotiations.”
“We will only sign a new NAFTA that is good for Canada and good for the middle class. Canada’s signature is required,” it added.
WATCH: Trump says trade deal with Canada will be next priority after Mexico
While speaking with Pena Nieto over the phone, Trump announced from the Oval Office that he plans to eliminate the name NAFTA.
“NAFTA has a lot of bad connotations to a lot of people,” Trump said, noting that he hopes to call this new trade pact the “U.S.-Mexico Trade Agreement.”
Trump added that he expects to revive negotiations with Canada very soon.
“I will be calling the prime minister very soon. If they like to negotiate fairly, we’ll do that,” he said.
Pena Nieto struck a friendlier tone while speaking through a translator, saying he hopes to incorporate Canada into the trade deal.
“It is our wish, Mr. President, that now Canada will also be able to be incorporated in all this,” he said.
It’s unclear to what extent Canadian officials were in the loop about Monday’s announcement, but a statement from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office explained he spoke with Pena Nieto Sunday.
WATCH: Canada calls for German backing amid Saudi human rights spat
“The leaders discussed the ongoing negotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement and shared their commitment to reaching a successful conclusion to this agreement for all three parties,” the statement read.
Trudeau has not commented on Monday’s Oval Office announcement. The prime minister is expected to spend most of the day in private meetings.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer tweeted that Trudeau is responsible for Canada being left out of trade talks.
“His economic failures have ruined Canada’s bargaining position and jeopardized thousands of jobs,” Scheer wrote.
Erin O’Toole, who is the Conservative Party’s shadow minister for foreign affairs, also spoke out Monday afternoon saying the government has “failed to advance Canada’s trade interests.”
O’Toole said Tories have been pushing for Trudeau to take trade more seriously, but that has not happened.
“For years, Conservatives have asked for a more serious approach from the Trudeau government on NAFTA, but the Liberals have preferred domestic political posturing over advancing our economic interests,” he wrote in an email statement.
The Tory MP added that NAFTA was born out of the Canada-U.S. free trade agreement, but now Mexico seems to have “usurped our role as the key US trade partner.”
Quebec MP Maxime Bernier also criticized the Trudeau government for “playing politics.”
“Now, @cafreeland and @JustinTrudeau, stop fooling around and playing politics,” Bernier, who recently quit the Conservative Party, tweeted.
“Put supply management on the table, end the retaliatory measures, accept Trump’s offer to aim at reducing all tariffs and barriers, and NEGOTIATE SERIOUSLY. More grandstanding will bring no result.”
The New Democrat party has not yet reacted to the announcement.
But things aren’t as bad as they may seem, Scotty Greenwood of the Canadian American Business Council explained.
WATCH: What’s next for NAFTA?
In an interview with Global News, Greenwood said that there could be a trilateral agreement within a week.
“Though Canada hasn’t been physically in the room the last five weeks, Canada has been at the table for the last year and Canadian ideas, particularly on auto rules of origin, have been in the room and present in the negotiations,” Greenwood said.
She added that Trump’s desire to change NAFTA’s name doesn’t mean much in reality.
“The president doesn’t want to call it NAFTA. He wants to call the new agreement something else, which is fine.”
© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.