Trump tries to build momentum for NAFTA replacement at Trudeau meeting
However, the Canadian prime minister later rejected the idea of reopening the deal in order to make changes.
“We are concerned that any reopening of [the trade pact] could lead to not just lengthy, further negotiations, but also may lead to worse outcomes for Canadians and for Canada,” he said during a press conference at the Canadian embassy Thursday afternoon.
Mexico this week became the first of the three nations to ratify the agreement.
The White House recently moved to ease passage of the agreement by lifting tariffs on imported steel and aluminum from Canada and Mexico. The Trump administration also took steps that would allow the administration to submit legislation necessary to implement the trade deal in time for lawmakers to vote before the August recess if they so choose.
Labor unions, a key Democratic constituency, are seeking assurances that Mexico will enforce enhanced labor standards for workers there because that would reduce the incentive for U.S. companies to move their plants and jobs south of the border. The new deal requires Mexico to encourage independent unions that will bargain for higher wages and better working conditions.
“If the president insists on a premature vote, we’ll have no choice but to oppose it,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said this week at a union event in Pittsburgh.
Democrats are also voicing concerns over language that would give pharmaceutical companies 10 years’ protection from cheaper competition in a category of ultra-expensive drugs called biologics, which are made from living cells. The need to curb high drug prices has become a rallying cry for voters of all political stripes.
Trump and Trudeau have had a rocky relationship but tensions have eased since a low point last summer when the U.S. president called Trudeau “weak” and “dishonest.” Trump was furious after Trudeau said at a Group of Seven summit that he wouldn’t let Canada be pushed around in trade relations with the U.S.
Trudeau said that he and Trump have been able to maintain their focus on the “things that matter in this relationship.”