Justin Trudeau Calls For Independent NAFTA Dispute System Because Trump Breaks The Rules

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau roundly criticized U.S. President Donald Trump in an interview with an Edmonton radio station. The topic of NAFTA came up as the trade agreement has become a hotly contested political cudgel that Trump has sought to renegotiate in a novel way. Instead of trying to put together an improved version of the existing agreement, it appears as if Trump is instead trying to negotiate independent agreements with the other partner nations, Canada and Mexico. Canada and Mexico would then be left to work out an agreement that although independent of the U.S. would still hinge on U.S. approval for certain aspects of it.

In Trump’s new NAFTA vision, the U.S. would serve as a middleman of sorts, and the arbiter of all disagreements, with U.S. courts resolving any conflicts or changes to the agreement the U.S. has with either nation. Under the current agreement, a panel made up of members of each nation resolves conflicts. That is what Trudeau is primarily concerned with right now, and it is because he alleges that Donald Trump doesn’t follow the rules, as reported by The Star. To Trudeau, an agreement without an independent dispute system in place is no agreement at all.

“We need to keep the Chapter 19 dispute resolution because that ensures that the rules are actually followed. And we know we have a president who doesn’t always follow the rules as they’re laid out.”

Trudeau had more to say on NAFTA than just that, primarily that he doesn’t agree with Trump’s idea that there is no need for Canada’s “cultural exemption,” which is what protects Canadian content, in part by allowing Canada to block the sale of Canadian media entities to U.S. corporations. This had never been an issue before, but for some reason Trump seems intent on changing this policy, which Trudeau has said is a “red line,” as reported by The Star.

“We can’t imagine a situation in which an American TV company or network could come up and buy radio stations or buy, you know, CTV for example. That would not be good for Canada. It wouldn’t be good for our identity. It wouldn’t be good for our sovereignty.”

Thus far, Trudeau has stuck to his guns and ignored Trump’s unilateral demand that Canada sign the preliminary trade agreement he proposed, whose deadline passed last week. It is not clear whether the U.S. Congress will approve a deal that Canada is not a part of, and could violate trade law per The Star. Trump spoke briefly on the issue to reporters after a meeting with the emir of Kuwait, although in a manner some reporters characterized as possibly more wishful than factual.

“We’re really, right now, in very intense negotiations, I would say would be the word, intense, with Canada. We’ll see how it works out. And if doesn’t work out, that’s going to be fine for the country, for our country. It won’t be fine for Canada. But we love Canada. They’re our next-door neighbour. We’ve had a great relationship with them for many, many years.”

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