Canada seeks 'more progressive' Nafta in US and Mexico talks

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Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said trade deals must help workers at home and abroad

Canada will push for environmental and labour protections during trade talks with the US and Mexico on Wednesday.

Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland outlined Canada's goals for the North American Free Trade Agreement on Monday in parliament.

US President Donald Trump is an outspoken critic of the agreement, and initiated the renegotiation in May.

The US is expected to push for more access to Canada's agricultural market, and an end to trade deficits.

Ms Freeland said Canada will push for the agreement to become more "progressive", and include more environmental and labour protections, as well as sections on gender equality and indigenous rights.

She also said Canada would seek a formal mechanism to ending trade disputes as they arise.

"We must pursue progressive trade agreements that are win-win, helping workers both at home and abroad to enjoy higher wages and better conditions," Ms Freeland said.

In her address to the committee on international trade, Ms Freeland laid out six main goals for the negotiations:

  • modernise the agreement for the technology sector
  • include provisions for the environment, labour, gender equality and indigenous rights
  • cut red tape
  • open up government-procurement processes
  • make it easier for professionals to work throughout North America
  • create a formal dispute mechanism to fight countervailing and anti-dumping duties

Canada is the America's largest export market and second-largest trading partner after China.

In 2016, more than $540bn (£416bn) of goods passed over the border between Canada and the US.

But tensions have been mounting under Mr Trump, who made tough-on-trade talk a hallmark of his campaign.

He has slapped tariffs on Canadian lumber and slammed Canadian pricing of dairy products, taking aim at Canada's system of supply management.

The US government has said trade deficits and market access will top its agenda during renegotiations.

Mexico wants to continue free access to goods and services, and strengthen the energy sector, according to a document leaked to Reuters.

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