Canada prepared for every eventuality in NAFTA talks - including their collapse

Canada prepared for every eventuality in NAFTA talks - including their collapse

Advertisment Liberal cabinet ministers have delivered a collective message that Canada will "stay strong" to defend the country's interests in the face of escalating trade tensions with the United States.

Canada will host the sixth and potentially make-or-break round of NAFTA talks later this month in Montreal.

Canada welcomes the suggestion by U.S. President Donald Trump that the deadline for concluding talks to modernize NAFTA could be extended beyond the end of March, Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters on Friday.

"When people see that you're firm, you get respect", he said.

International Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said Canada will remain solution-oriented and constructive in its trade talks, but said the WTO complaint sends a clear message of "firmness" in Canada's approach.

Canada has previously indicated that it is at odds with the US over procedures to settle trade disputes and a USA proposal to insert a five-year "sunset clause", meaning the deal would expire unless it is renewed every five years.

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The meeting will take place as part of the upcoming sixth round of negotiations, to be hosted by Montreal, Canada on January 23-28, and could move up the round of talks to January 21, said Castanon.

The Liberal cabinet is portraying Canada's decision to launch a sweeping challenge of US trade practices as a show of strength, even as it prepares Canadians for the possibility that the government may lose its battle to keep NAFTA talks alive. Numerous bread-and-butter, business chapters are reaching a closing stage, and officials are developing new, creative ideas to respond to "unconventional" USA proposals, she said.

"When it comes to the more unconventional USA proposals, we have been doing some creative thinking, we've been talking with Canadian stakeholders and we have some new ideas that we look forward to talking with our USA and Mexican counterparts about in Montreal".

Neither Freeland nor Finance Minister Bill Morneau would discuss what preparations the government is making for the potential end of NAFTA.

"I think Canadians understand that while we have a very good relationship with our largest trading partner, it's just the smart thing to do".

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