U.S-Canada Trade Talks Ongoing – Canada’s Dairy Tariffs and Demands for Exemptions on “Cultural Industries” Still at Issue….


In case anyone was wondering, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is in Europe talking trade with the European Union.  Within the delegation of trade negotiation, the EU trade agreement is designated to Ross, while USTR Lighthizer covers Canada and Mexico and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin is holding point on China.  Secretary Ross is getting the royalty treatment in Greece today.

Meanwhile, Ambassador Robert Lighthizer is still engaged with Chrystia from Canada as negotiations continue to see if a U.S-Canada trade deal is possible.  He must have the patience of Job. The 52,000 lost Canadian jobs announced today has shifted the landscape a little.  Canada appears slightly more likely to back-away from prior demands to carve out the Canadian Dairy industry and continue the process of protectionist tariffs.

Ms. Freeland is heading back to Canada tonight, leaving her negotiation team in DC to continue working.  However, Canada still demands to exempt their “cultural industries”, telecommunications and media sectors, from any trade agreement. The issues for Canada to join the U.S-Mexico agreement are/were:

  • open their telecommunications and banking sector (eliminate non tariff barriers).
  • eliminate soft-wood (lumber) and aeronautics federal subsidies.
  • begin a process of lowering their assembly use of Chinese/Asian goods.
  • accept the rules of origin for North American manufacturing.
  • eliminate protectionist tariffs on dairy and farm products.
  • accept the U.S-Mexico terms for arbitration and dispute resolution.

The Telecommunications/media sector is non-negotiable according to Justin from Canada. There may be flexibility within banking (not much information).  The lumber and aeronautics subsidies could be dropped.  Rules of origin are non-negotiable for President Trump.  Protectionist tariffs on dairy and farm products are the current issue being discussed.  Dispute resolution is an outstanding issue.

CANADA / WASHINGTON — The vexing issue of securing more American access to Canadian dairy remained a major obstacle in NAFTA negotiations as Canada’s lead minister on the continental trade pact departed the U.S. capital Friday.

Larry Kudlow, the director of President Donald Trump’s National Economic Council, laid that out in the plainest terms possible during a televised interview Friday morning, hours before talks ended between Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland her U.S. counterpart, trade czar Robert Lighthizer.

Freeland had come to Washington this week in an attempt to break the impasse in the 13-month renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which was started at Trump’s behest.

A senior government official, briefing reporters on background, said Freeland was departing Washington on Friday night, but would keep in touch with Lighthizer. Canadian and American negotiators would continue to meet, the official added. (more)

Chrystia Freeland remarks.

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Robert Lighthizer won’t discuss anything with the media; however, Larry Kudlow discusses some of the issues:

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