US & Canada

Trump adviser offers Canada reassurances on trade, Nafta

Stephen Schwarzman, Chairman, CEO and Co-­Founder, Blackstonespeaks during the panel Powering Africa: Leading Developments In Infrastructure on August 5, 2014, at the US-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, DC. Image copyright AFP
Image caption Stephen Schwarzman, who advises President Donald Trump on the economy, is offering reassurances to Canada on trade

One of Donald Trump's top advisers says Canada "should not be worried" about bearing the brunt of the new president's protectionist policies.

Stephen Schwarzman also says it is unlikely energy exports to the US would face any new cross-border taxes.

The business adviser met Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Cabinet on Monday.

Mr Trump has told Canada and Mexico he plans to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta).

Canada "is held in very high regard", Mr Schwarzman told journalists after the Calgary meeting.

"Canada is very well-positioned for any discussions with the United States," he said.

The chief executive of the US investment firm Blackstone Group, who chairs a panel of business leaders who give Mr Trump advice, also noted trade between the two countries was essentially in the balance.

Mr Trudeau and his team have been working to build a relationship with the new Trump administration. Senior aides to both Mr Trump and Mr Trudeau met in Washington and New York before Mr Trump's inauguration.

Mr Trudeau and his team are meeting in Calgary over two days to discuss the US-Canada relationship.

According to reports, Mr Trump's son-in-law and close adviser, Jared Kushner, was supposed to meet with Mr Trudeau and members of his Cabinet but was unable to make the trip.

Mr Trudeau's spokesman said that "a high level of engagement" between both governments continues.

During the election, the president made trade a core campaign issue. He regularly criticised deals made with countries like China and Mexico, which both import more goods to the US than the US exports to them.

He has threatened to impose high tariffs against imports from both countries,

Mr Trump's tough trade talk worried Canadian politicians and industry, given the US is the country's largest trading partner. The Nafta agreement came into effect between the US, Canada, and Mexico in 1994.

On Monday, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said he expects Mr Trump to meet Mr Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto within "the next 30 days or so" to discuss reopening the trade deal.

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