‘The deal will take as long as the deal takes, whether it takes till the end of the month or the end of the year’ Canada’s chief trade negotiator Steve Verheul. Associated Press file photo In the “psychological warfare” that is trade negotiation, Canada faces another U.S.-imposed deadline this week to conclude high-intensity NAFTA negotiations.
Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said Monday she will rejoin the talks in Washington within days, but Canadian negotiators seem determined to resist the time pressures, setting themselves apart from their Mexican counterparts.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has insisted repeatedly that no deal is better than a rushed bad deal, even as American officials push for a resolution as early as Thursday. Meanwhile, sources say U.S. officials have grown frustrated with Canada’s stubborn tactics, led by a taciturn but unflappable career negotiator.
The main sticking points include American demands to get more access to the Canadian dairy market, scrap one of NAFTA’s dispute-resolution sections and loosen protections for cultural industries here.
By contrast, Mexico has already struck a wide-ranging bilateral deal with the U.S. that one of its top officials admitted recently was less than perfect, and says it ‘s willing to push ahead without Canada if necessary.
“Unlike Mexico, Canada has been steadfastly focused on the content of the agreement, and trying not to get boxed in by artificial deadlines,” said Eric Miller, a Washington-based consultant and veteran of several major free-trade negotiations. “The deal will take as long as the deal takes, whether it takes till the end of the month or the end of the year.”
Miller believes Canada’s approach makes sense. Other observers worry that it risks leaving the country under a prolonged cloud of economic uncertainty.
But what seems clear are the divergent negotiating strategies of the United States’ two North American partners, in the face […]