TORONTO – Canada said on Tuesday that it has no intention of sacrificing Mexico to improve its relations with US President Donald Trump in the future renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Both Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland and former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney said at a conference in Toronto that the Ottawa government has no intention of sacrificing Mexico, as some analysts have suggested it might.
With Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray seated at her side, Freeland told a group of more than 100 businessmen and journalists participating in the Canadian Council for the Americas conference that the renegotiation of NAFTA will be tripartite.
Trump has suggested that he will renegotiate NAFTA with Mexico and Canada separately.
The US president thinks that NAFTA has disproportionally benefitted Mexico because the US has a considerable trade deficit with its southern neighbor.
The US administration has also said that the situation with Canada is very different because bilateral trade, which stands at about $1.9 billion each day, is evenly balanced.
The statements by Trump and his advisers have motivated Canadian political analysts to suggest in recent weeks that Ottawa should focus on preserving its relationship with the US, even if that means sacrificing the one it maintains with Mexico.
On Tuesday, however, Mulroney, who negotiated NAFTA with Washington and Mexico City during his mandate, rejected that possibility.
Mulroney, who has been a friend of Trump for years, said that sacrificing Mexico would be something that would make Canada a “loser,” although “Canada is a winner.”
The former premier acknowledged that renegotiating NAFTA could at times and on certain points be undertaken bilaterally but at other times it will be trilateral.
In the end, he said, he believes that the trio of nations will end up with a more up-to-date and modernized NAFTA.
Freeland and Videgaray agreed that any NAFTA renegotiation must be tripartite.
Meanwhile, Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo established the general lines alone which Mexico intends to renegotiate NAFTA, acknowledging that the pact needs to be updated given that, for instance, “there were not even cellphones” or e-mail when it was created.
But, he said, for negotiations to commence, the US will have to acknowledge that the pact has benefitted its economy, despite Trump’s public denial of that possibility.
He said that the figures do not support Trump’s rhetoric that NAFTA has destroyed US jobs because the sectors most closely linked to the accord – such as automobiles, computers and aerospace – have expanded while those that are not have “quickly” shrunk.
“Mexico and Canada, especially Mexico, is not part of the problem in the US manufacturing sector, but part of the solution for maintaining jobs in the United States,” he said.