Caisse's Sabia, Brookfield's Flatt Shrug off Trump Nafta Threat

Caisse's Sabia, Brookfield's Flatt Shrug off Trump Nafta Threat

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.

She said the government is treating the US threat seriously.

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

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.

The ministers spoke with reporters in London, Ont., where Justin Trudeau and his cabinet are holding a retreat.

"I'm leaving it a little bit flexible because they have an election coming up", he said, though he also repeated his threat to walk away from the agreement.

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

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"We need to think about that in the context of making sure that we handle things in a way that we're well positioned for the subsequent negotiation", he said, adding that the two economies are too intertwined to not require further trade talks.

The three countries have been renegotiating the deal at the behest of Trump, who regards the pact as having disadvantaged the U.S. economy.

Canada and Mexico have categorically rejected a number of USA demands, including American calls to scrap the independent dispute settlement process, end Canada's system of supply management for dairy and poultry, hike American and North American content requirements for automobiles and add a sunset clause that would automatically terminate the agreement after five years unless all three member countries agree to extend it.

President Donald Trump has said the U.S. would scrap NAFTA if the sixth round of negotiations, due to start on January 23 in Montreal, fails to yield results.

"It's time to broach the toughest issues in Montreal", said Castanon.

NDP trade critic Tracey Ramsey called on Ms. Freeland to clearly outline what the government means by a "whole-of-government" preparation for the potential termination of NAFTA.

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