From labour standards to cutting red tape: Canada outlines broad NAFTA goals

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland is laying out some of Canada’s priorities for the upcoming renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

In a speech today, Freeland shared a half-dozen NAFTA goals — including stronger labour standards, tougher environmental protection provisions and a reform of the investor-state dispute settlement process.

She says Ottawa also aims to cut down on bureaucracy and harmonize regulations to ease the flow of cross-border business.

Canadian negotiators will also push for more mobility for professionals and freer market for government procurement.

Freeland says Canada will also seek to maintain key elements of the 23-year-old deal — including the process to ensure anti-dumping and countervailing duties are only applied when truly warranted.

She says Ottawa will also press to preserve the exception in NAFTA to protect Canadian culture and the supply management system.

Canadian negotiators will sit down with their American and Mexican counterparts Wednesday in Washington for the first round of talks.

“In all these discussions, we will come to the table with goodwill, and Canada’s characteristic ability and willingness to seek compromise and find win-win solutions,” said a prepared copy of Freeland remarks.

“But we are committed to a good deal, not just any deal.”

Last month, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer released the Trump administration’s set of priorities for the NAFTA talks.

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