After a tense few days of doubt over NAFTA’s survival, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says his Liberal government’s pro-active approach to renegotiating the trade pact is yielding positive results.
Trudeau made the remarks at the close of a two-day cabinet retreat in London, Ont., where talk of jobs and economic growth was overshadowed by uncertainty over the fate of NAFTA.
The meeting began amid reports suggesting the U.S. was poised to serve notice it will withdraw from the agreement.
But late yesterday, U.S. President Donald Trump hinted at a reprieve, telling the Wall Street Journal he would be “leaving it a little bit flexible” until the Mexican presidential election on July 1, though he repeated his threat to withdraw from NAFTA if he could not negotiate improvements for the U.S.
Trudeau said Canada has been working hard on outreach on the file, while remaining “very firm” in standing up for Canadian interests.
“We’re going to continue to work diligently, and might I add, that the number of voices that we are seeing speak up in the United States in support of NAFTA demonstrates that our serious and positive approach is delivering fruit,” he said.
Earlier today, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland called Trump’s change of heart “sensible” and “constructive.”
The next round of NAFTA talks will begin in Montreal Jan. 23, just days before MPs return to Parliament.
During Trudeau’s closing news conference, he was asked about reports that Trump referred to Haiti and a number of other states as a group of “shithole” countries, Trudeau said he would not comment on the remarks and instead noted the eighth anniversary of the Haitian earthquake.
“I think you all know that I am not going to opine on what the president may or may not have said,” Trudeau remarked. “I will simply repeat that Canada is a country of openness of respect and we will continue to be there to support friends around the world and to welcome people who will contribute to building a stronger country.”