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U.S., Canada to “Tweak” NAFTA, Pursue Cargo Preclearance

Wednesday, February 15, 2017
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The U.S. and Canada announced plans for further trade-related cooperation Feb. 13 while downplaying the prospect of significant changes to NAFTA, which President Trump has said he wants to renegotiate.

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In a joint press conference following a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Washington, Trump said the U.S. has “a very outstanding trade relationship with Canada” and will be “tweaking it,” ostensibly as part of a NAFTA renegotiation. He asserted that U.S.-Canada trade is “a much less severe situation than what’s taking place” between the U.S. and Mexico, which he said has been an “extremely unfair” situation that he plans to “make … a fair deal for both parties.”

Trudeau emphasized that NAFTA has been a “groundbreaking economic partnership” that currently features more than $2 billion in cross-border trade each day and that millions of jobs depend on this partnership. Trudeau said future discussions should reflect the complete and total integration of the two economies and the need to “allow this free flow of goods and services.”

Trump added that the U.S. and Canada will “be doing certain things that are going to benefit both of our countries” economically. For example, he and Trudeau pledged to continue a dialogue on regulatory issues and to pursue shared regulatory outcomes that are “business-friendly, reduce costs, and increase economic efficiency without compromising health, safety, and environmental standards.” They also committed to establishing pre-clearance operations for cargo in light of the success of pre-clearance for travelers and said they intend to accelerate the completion of pre-clearance for additional cities and further expand this program. They also plan to examine ways to further integrate border operations, including by analyzing the feasibility of co-locating border officials in common processing facilities.

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