U.S. interested in striking side deals

The United States has no immediate plans to reopen NAFTA but remains interested in side deals related to labour and the environment, America’s new ambassador to Canada affirmed Wednesday.

MONTREAL — The United States has no immediate plans to reopen NAFTA but remains interested in side deals related to labour and the environment, America’s new ambassador to Canada affirmed Wednesday.

David Jacobson told an audience in Montreal that President Barack Obama is a “strong believer” in free trade.

But he added that the White House remains interested in possible additions to the North American trade treaty that would benefit the environment and labour standards.

“I don’t believe there is any interest at this point time in renegotiating the NAFTA treaty,” he said.

“There may be, with respect to labour and the environment, side letters that may improve the situation from the perspective of all three countries.

“But fundamentally our view of NAFTA is that it is working very well. It is working very well for all sides.”

Those words could reassure a business community unnerved by remarks about NAFTA by Barack Obama during last year’s presidential campaign.

Obama talked about reopening the trade deal while campaigning during the Democratic primaries.