SURREY, British Columbia (Reuters) – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau indicated on Tuesday that Canada would not compromise on key demands at high-level talks this week with the United States to update the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Senior officials from both sides are due to meet in Washington on Wednesday in a bid to settle major differences amid pressure from Washington for a quick settlement.
“There are a number of things we absolutely must see in a renegotiated NAFTA,” Trudeau told reporters in the Pacific province of British Columbia.
“No NAFTA is better than a bad NAFTA deal for Canadians and that’s what we are going to stay with.”
U.S. President Donald Trump – who signed a NAFTA side deal with Mexico last week – has threatened to impose auto tariffs on Canada or exclude it from the three-nation pact unless an agreement can be struck quickly.
Trudeau made clear, however, he would insist on keeping the so-called Chapter 19 dispute-resolution mechanism that Washington wants to scrap.
“We will not sign a deal that is bad for Canadians, and quiet frankly, not having a Chapter 19 to ensure the rules are followed would be bad for Canadians,” he said.
He also said existing protections that ban U.S. media firms from buying Canadian cultural industries such as television stations and newspapers must be maintained.
Writing by David Ljunggren; Editing by James Dalgleish and Peter Cooney