Address by the Minister of Foreign Affairs at Round Seven of Negotiations on the Modernization of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
March 5, 2018 – Mexico City
Check against delivery. This speech has been translated in accordance with the Government of Canada’s official languages policy and edited for posting and distribution in accordance with its communications policy.
Good day. I’m happy to be in Mexico once again to meet with my counterparts as we continue our work to modernize and improve the North America Free Trade Agreement.
Thank you, Secretary Guajardo, for hosting us so graciously, as you always do.
I would note that since we lifted the visa requirement between Canada and Mexico, tourism has grown significantly. In fact, as of September, there has been a 52 percent increase in visitors from Mexico to Canada, including students and tourists. These are welcome numbers, and demonstrate the strength and importance of the Canada-Mexico relationship, and indeed of the entire North American community.
Ambassador Lighthizer, it’s good to see you again to continue our discussions on how we can make NAFTA better for workers in all three of our countries.
I would like to again offer Canada’s condolences to the American people in the aftermath of the Parkland, Florida, tragedy. Canadians have the parents, families and friends of all of the victims and all Americans in our hearts at this difficult time.
To begin, I’d like to thank our negotiators who are working so hard to update and improve our trading relationship in a way that is win-win-win. You are an extraordinary group of professionals and we are all very grateful for your efforts.
From the outset of these talks last August, Canada’s approach has been to propose ideas and solutions that will benefit businesses and workers in all three of our countries. Canada remains completely committed to this goal.
In these negotiations we have been constructive, fair-minded and determined to reach not just any deal, but a good deal. That very much remains our approach.
NAFTA has been in place for 24 years. And the economic results are not in doubt. We know this agreement has created jobs, supported growth, and raised living standards for people in Canada, the United States and Mexico.
Having said that, this agreement is 24 years old. It needs to be modernized. It needs to reflect that technology, business and society have evolved. And it needs to be updated to broaden the benefits of trade to more people.
President Trump has said his most important goal is to help American workers and to help the American middle class. We in Canada have exactly the same goal for our workers and our middle class. This can and should be a shared project.
That’s because trade is not a zero-sum game. In trade, we can all win. And we need to all win, in order to reach an agreement that will benefit all our people.
This negotiation will be successful if together we can make North America more competitive in the world and create more jobs, including manufacturing jobs, in North America.
North American competitiveness is essential to our economic prosperity, and to our ability to compete globally.
In this seventh round here in Mexico City, we’ve made solid progress.
Our negotiators have been toiling away on some of these bread-and-butter chapters for months, without a lot of fanfare. Yet, these issues are hugely important to businesses and individuals who work across our borders. And we are moving ahead.
In previous rounds, we closed chapters on competition, small and medium-sized enterprises, and anti-corruption. Here in Mexico City, we added substantially to that by closing the good regulatory practices chapter, the publication and administration chapter, the sanitary and phytosanitary chapter, the chemicals annex, and the proprietary food formulas annex.
And we’re beginning to make headway on some of the more challenging issues.
At round six in Montreal, Canada offered creative ideas to initiate a discussion about these areas.
That discussion has been constructive. And it continued here in Mexico City.
We are making progress – but we have significant work ahead.
Let me pause for a moment on a separate point.
Last week, I issued a statement about the U.S. government’s pending announcement on steel and aluminum imports. What I said then remains Canada’s view.
As a key NORAD and NATO ally, and as the number one customer of American steel, Canada would view any trade restrictions on Canadian steel and aluminum as absolutely unacceptable.
We will always stand up for Canadian workers and Canadian businesses. Should restrictions be imposed on Canadian steel and aluminum products, Canada will take appropriate responsive measures to defend its trade interests and workers.
We will continue to stand up for our steel and aluminum workers and industry.
To conclude, we know that trade between Canada, and the United States and Mexico is good for all three of our countries. Today, the three of us have a historic opportunity – to improve and modernize NAFTA, to bring more jobs and growth to North America, and to make North America more competitive in the world.
We do have a lot of work ahead. Canada is committed to the success of this negotiation.
And I look forward to continuing our work in Washington, D.C., in round eight.
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