North America leaders mount strong defense of trade despite threats

Wed Jun 29, 2016 7:41pm EDT
 
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By Roberta Rampton and David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada, the United States and Mexico on Wednesday mounted a fierce defense of free trade, vowing to deepen economic ties despite an increasingly acrimonious debate about the value of globalization.

U.S. President Barack Obama and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto also took swipes at U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who has vowed to renegotiate or scrap the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) if he wins November's election.

"The integration of national economies into a global economy: that's here, that's done," Obama told a news conference at the end of a summit dubbed the "Three Amigos".

"And us trying to abandon the field and pull up the drawbridge around us is going to be bad for us," he said after the talks, hosted by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Trump says free trade has been disastrous, costing thousands of U.S. jobs and depressing wages.

Similar complaints were heard in Britain ahead of a surprise referendum vote last week to leave the European Union and its free trade area.

Obama and Pena Nieto stressed the importance of the relationship between their countries, which has come under strain amid heated U.S. campaign rhetoric.

"Isolationism cannot bring prosperity to a society," Pena Nieto said after bilateral talks with Obama.   Continued...

 
(L-R) Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Barack Obama shake hands while posing for the family photo at the North American Leaders' Summit in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, June 29, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Wattie