By: The Working Forest Staff
CBC NEWS — Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says conversations with the U.S. remain “constructive,” even as White House officials threaten to impose punitive tariffs on Canadian-made cars if Canada doesn’t sign on to a new North American Free Trade Agreement by Friday.
According to CBC News, Canada’s pressing concern is how Chapter 19 of the original NAFTA — the dispute settlement mechanism that can be used to challenge anti-dumping and countervailing duty cases, like what has been used by Canada in past on the softwood lumber file — has been renegotiated by the two countries.
Chapter 19 has been a do-or-die issue for Canada as it is often relied on to fight punitive duties. The USTR’s Bob Lighthizer, who is leading the U.S. negotiations, has long opposed this chapter as he believes it’s in violation of U.S. sovereignty.
Sources with direct knowledge of the situation, and who spoke to CBC News on background, said Canada won’t accept a deal without a strong dispute resolution system.
Freeland said Canada’s position on the issue is well-known and discussions on resolving some of these substantive sticking points will begin in earnest.
“It was a very constructive meeting with Ambassador [Robert] Lighthizer and his team and we’ll be back again tomorrow,” Freeland told reporters Tuesday following her first negotiating session at the U.S. Trade Representative office in months.
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