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Trudeau expected to meet Trump in late-February to talk NAFTA

Trudeau and Trump have now talked twice by telephone.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to meet with US President Donald Trump within “the next 30 days or so”, according to a White House spokesperson.

The Canadian Press reports, “Trudeau will meet the new U.S. president within the next several weeks, as the incoming American administration talks to its northern and southern neighbours about a revised North American Free Trade Agreement. The first NAFTA talks could take place in the U.S., [Trump spokesperson] Sean Spicer suggested. He appeared to indicate the leaders would visit Trump. However, in Canada, several officials said specifics of a meeting had yet to be nailed down. ‘[Trump] discussed on the phone with both leaders his desire to reform [NAFTA]’, Spicer told reporters. ‘His goal was to have that discussion when they come in person.'”

Agence France Press has reported that Trump will meet with the Mexican president on January 31.

While Trudeau’s officials have had at least a dozen meetings with Trump’s team, and Trudeau and Trump have had at least two telephone conversations, the prime minister has not made public what he will present (or be willing to concede) to Trump.

It has been suggested that the Trudeau government might be willing to jettison NAFTA in order to revert back to the US-Canada Free Trade Agreement or to negotiate a new agreement with the United States. The rationale is that given Trump targeted Mexico in his election rhetoric, Canada could avoid being caught in that crossfire by focusing on bilateral relations rather than attempting to preserve the trilateral NAFTA.

Last week, Trump’s nominee for commerce secretary Wilbur Ross said every aspect of NAFTA will be on the negotiating table.

It’s not likely that he meant Chapter 11, the provision that allows transnational corporations to sue governments for public interest legislation that impacts future profits, is on the table to be removed from the agreement. In fact, remarkably, The Globe and Mail reported that Ross believes the investor-state provision gives too much power to Canada and Mexico, even though Canada is the most sued developed country in the world and the United States has never lost a NAFTA investor-state case or paid any compensation to Canadian or Mexican companies.

The Council of Canadians calls for:

1- transparency through the entirety of the negotiations – especially in regards to what Trudeau is conceding to Trump to maintain NAFTA

2- meaningful consultations with the general public, as well as consultations and consent from First Nations

3- removal of the controversial Chapter 11 investor-state provision

4- removal of all references to water in NAFTA as a good, service or investment, unless to allow for the specific protection or exclusion of water

5- an exemption from NAFTA’s energy proportionality rule in order to meet our Paris climate commitments

6- a North American Auto Pact to ensure that each country receives a proportional share of employment and investment, and that workers have good jobs and fair wages

7- strengthening the exemption of medicare in NAFTA to allow for an expansion of public health care in areas including pharmacare

8- protection of farmers and local control over farm and food polices

9- the right to use procurement to create jobs and local economic projects

10- clear rules assessing that trade serves communities and people, not the other way around.

For more on our NAFTA campaign, please click here.