US-Canada trade talks continued Wednesday morning as the two nations set out to reach a deal by the end of the week to keep North America's three-country free trade agreement intact.
The United States and Mexico agreed earlier this week on a bilateral trade pact, saying that Canada has only days left to sign or be barred. But the pressure on President Trump is growing to include Canada in any pact, with legislators increasingly pointing out that a bilateral agreement will not stand Congress.
On Wednesday, Chrysidas Freeland, Canada's foreign minister, expressed optimism that the talks would get off to a positive start this week.
wife. Freeland held a brief meeting with US Representative Robert E. Lighthizer on Tuesday evening after traveling from Europe to Washington. Following this meeting, she met with Mexican officials to discuss the trade agreement they had with the United States.
The Trump administration may be more willing to sign a deal with Canada with a relapse from Congress. The potential for a Nafta, which includes only Mexico, could lead to a showdown with Congress, which has the ultimate legal authority over trade agreements.
White House officials have attempted to sell the agreement with Mexico, which Canada can not refuse, but there are still some issues to be resolved between the United States and its northern neighbor – including Canada's milk tariffs and a legal framework for the settlement of trade disputes.
"We are extremely confident that Canada will join," Kevin Hassett, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said on Fox Business Network. "It's a great thing, it's really a historic agreement that the President has made with Mexico, and so they should be ready for it."
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Legal experts are still divided over what would happen to the trade relationship between the US and Canada when they are no longer merged through Nafta become. Relations between Canada and Mexico are likely to be governed by the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is likely to be approved by countries early next year. But this pact excludes the United States, and the relationship could revert to the rules of an earlier United States-Canada free trade agreement.
It is also unclear whether the United States can conclude a bilateral agreement with Mexico without ending Nafta and resuming the process of informing Congress of the government's intentions.
White House officials have publicly stated that they believe a bilateral agreement with Mexico can be made if Canada does not want to participate, but privately they have cast doubt on the legal consequences casting Canada aside.
The government has received approval from the Congress to renegotiate Nafta under the so-called "fast lane" authority, which is creating a streamlined process to bring the trade agreement into law. But some Republicans were skeptical as to whether an agreement that excludes Canada meets the terms of this agreement.
"To use the Trade Promotion Authority's fast track procedures, the government must also reach an agreement with Canada," said Senator Patrick J Toomey, a Pennsylvania Republican, said in a statement. "Nafta was a three-party agreement that entered into force only with the laws passed by Congress, and any change, such as the termination of Nafta, would require additional legislation from Congress."
Because of these limitations, many Canadians have the threats interpreted by Mr. Trump to go forward with a bilateral agreement without raging them.
"It's rhetoric," said Debra Steger, law professor at the University of Ottawa, former former negotiator for Canada and former official at the World Trade Organization. "It's just a bargaining tactic that sounds good if you do not understand the law and the rules."
"In my view, I do not realize how the government is coming and that a bilateral agreement with Mexico has been duly reported to Congress," said Jennifer Hillman, a professor at the Georgetown Law Center. However, she admitted that this point is unlikely to matter as long as congressmen are unwilling to fight the government. Although members of the Congress have vociferously objected to the President's earlier trade policy, they have not yet campaigned for legislation that would actually hinder trade. With the approach of the mid-term elections, Republicans have shied away from talking too much against the president.
The Trump government seems ready to test Congress if the United States and Canada can not agree. Mr Lighthizer insisted on Monday that an agreement with Mexico would still meet the requirements of the Congress.
"Ideally, we will have involved Canadians, and if we do not involve the Canadians, we will announce that we have a bilateral agreement that Canada is welcome," he said, referring to the process of notifying Congress her intention to sign a deal. "We believe that this meets our requirements, the requirements of the law."
Some legal experts argue that the Trump government still has a few weeks left to close a deal. The White House must inform Congress by the end of August of its intention to sign a trade agreement so that the agreement can be signed before the current Mexican government leaves the office on December 1.
But some lawyers say the language The message can be vague, and the administration has another 30 days before it has to submit the actual text of the trade agreement to Congress.
The question, said Jeffrey J. Schott, Senior Scientist at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, "If countries can come close enough to an agreement with Canada to include Canada in the notification and a deal in the coming weeks." negotiate. "
Canada May Have a Revised Nafta Deal (19659002) The Democrats have long criticized Nafta for sending US jobs abroad, and they have urged Mr. Trump to protect workers Increase deal. Republicans have criticized some of the government's proposals, which they consider to be discriminatory, including the expiration clause and restrictions on companies' ability to sue foreign governments.
Many members of Congress also seem to be campaigning for Canada's acceptance. Canada is the largest export destination for 36 states.
On Tuesday, Senator Jerry Moran, Kansas Republican, sent a letter to Mr. Trump, who said Canada must be included in every revised Nafta.
"Any new agreement that Canada would, unfortunately, be a significant step in the wrong direction, compared with the trilateral agreement that is in force today."
Canada had attempted these links in the Nafta talks last year to use with Mrs. Freeland and others Canadian officials make frequent trips to Capitol Hill. These trips angered Trump administrators who accused Canada of bypassing the White House.
Jennifer Steinhauer contributed reports and Catherine Porter contributed from Ottawa.