Canadian PM reiterates on NAFTA: no deal 'better' than bad deal

Update: February, 08/2018 - 12:39

CHICAGO — Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reiterated on Wednesday during a US visit that he is willing to walk away from the North American Free Trade Agreement if renegotiation fails to produce a deal he can accept.

"We will not be pushed into accepting any old deal, and no deal might be better for Canada than a bad deal," Trudeau said during remarks in Chicago -- the first stop in a visit that will also take him to Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Trudeau’s comments came after the latest round of talks between Canada, the United States and Mexico ended on January 29 with word that there was slow progress emerging.

US President Donald Trump has threatened to withdraw from the trade pact if it is not renegotiated to his liking.

"We are legitimately concerned about the future of NAFTA, because the (US) president has said he’s not sure it’s a good thing," Trudeau said at a Wednesday appearance at the University of Chicago.

Trudeau also indicated he would be willing to walk away from the trade pact at the end of last week, but emphasized -- as he did Wednesday -- that NAFTA has been beneficial to both countries.

"Our economies have thrived over the past 25 years under NAFTA," he said.

"At the same time, absolutely we need to modernize."

The NAFTA talks previously had deadlocked over contentious demands from Washington, such as a "sunset clause" that would end the trade deal after five years unless it is renewed by the parties.

Pressed on Wednesday on what changes he could not accept, Trudeau said:

"Anything that provides a level of uncertainty -- like a ’sunset clause’, for example, to businesses -- is something that we have grave reservations about."

The next round of NAFTA negotiations has been scheduled for the end of February in Mexico, before moving to Washington. — AFP