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Trump takes aim at Congress as NAFTA talks set to continue

Trump takes aim at Congress as NAFTA talks set to continue

The prime minister said his government similarly won't budge on exemptions for Canadian cultural industries that protect broadcast and publishing industries from being taken over by US companies.

Canada rejoined the talks with the aim of reaching a three-way pact, but Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland abruptly ended the last round of talks on Friday with no deal, after derogatory remarks by Trump about Canada were leaked.

Trudeau started the day by branding Trump a rule breaker to argue in favour of keeping a mechanism to resolve trade disputes, while Trump hours later said Canada had more to lose than the United States if the two countries can't make a deal to preserve the three country NAFTA.

Carla Hills, who was the USA trade representative under President George H.W. Bush who negotiated the NAFTA accord, has been one of the most ardent advocates of preserving the breadth of a deal that from the beginning was about more than regulating imports and exports.

"We'll walk away and not sign a bad deal for Canadians", he vowed.

Trudeau on Wednesday insisted that Canada would work to maintain a dispute settlement process in the deal, provisions that the USA prefers to ditch.

"To me, I think that's why we're seeing more noise around it".

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Trudeau said Tuesday he would refuse to sign a new NAFTA unless it preserved the exemptions that have protected Canada's cultural sectors, including broadcasting, publishing and music, for decades. Nor had it made much of a ripple in public discussions on NAFTA, except during some testimony at a few US hearings, experts say. Giving up the exemptions would be tantamount to giving up Canadian sovereignty and identity, Trudeau said.

He also said existing protections that ban USA media firms from buying Canadian cultural industries such as television stations and newspapers must be maintained.

"We've made it very clear that defending that cultural exemption is something fundamental to Canadians", he added.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the US president's aversion to following rules is a key reason Canada can't budge on a dispute settlement provision in a revamped North American Free Trade Agreement.

U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to push ahead with a bilateral deal with Mexico, effectively killing the nearly 25-year-old three-country pact, which covers $1.2 trillion in trade.

A week ago, the USA and Mexico reached an agreement on revisions to the current North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which Trump and the unions alike have criticized as a "disaster" (in Trump's words) or "devastating" (in Trumka's) for US workers.

Talks are scheduled to resume on Wednesday.

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Levy of the Chicago Council says there are already signs that Mexico and Canada are taking steps to diversify their trade and broader economic relations beyond a less-predictable US.

She said that's because a recent ruling by the court emphasized that it did not have jurisdiction under the Special Import Measures Act to change so-called "dumping margins".

Sources familiar with Canada's bargaining position insist Ottawa's push to maintain the cultural exemption has remained unresolved between the two neighbours.

"The deal is a much more fair deal between the United States and Mexico", Trump said.

Freeland flew to Washington last week for four days of negotiations to try to keep Canada within the regional trade bloc. As the process grinds on, some in Washington insist Trump can not pull out of NAFTA without the approval of Congress.

USA negotiators want to kill Chapter 19 and tabled a proposal last October to remove it from a modernized agreement. The United States and Mexico reached an agreement on overhauling NAFTA at the beginning of last week, turning up the pressure on Canada to agree to new terms.

The text of the new trade deal still remains largely under wraps.

Tropical Storm Gordon likely to become a hurricane Tuesday
Various watches and warnings are in effect for portions of the Gulf Coast from Florida Bay to east of Morgan City, La. A storm surge watch spread west to the mouth of the Mississippi River in Louisiana, and east to Navarre, Florida.


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