UPDATE 1-Canada's Trudeau not worried new U.S. president might seek to reopen NAFTA

Thu Mar 31, 2016 10:48am EDT
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WASHINGTON, March 31 (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday said he was not worried that the next U.S. president might seek to reopen the three-nation North American Free Trade Agreement.

"I don't think that's a real issue. I think it's a concern but I'm not worried that we're going to suddenly reopen NAFTA or other trade deals," he told CNBC television in an interview when pressed about negative comments about NAFTA in the run-up to the U.S. election.

NAFTA, which came into force in 1994, binds the United States, Canada and Mexico. Trudeau says the agreement has benefited Canada by boosting trade and creating jobs.

Donald Trump, who leads the Republican nomination race, says free trade has hurt Americans by encouraging companies to move their operations out of the country. He has also threatened to slap steep tariffs on Chinese and Mexican imports.

"The challenge is once you've reopened it (a trade deal) a little bit they all tend to unravel," said Trudeau, who is visiting Washington.

Earlier in the day he told an event hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that NAFTA had worked "extremely well" for the U.S. and Canadian economies.

"We all know how important it is to be looking forward and not turn back the clock to a golden olden days that were never as golden" as they were made out to be, he added. (Reporting by Andrea Shalal, writing by David Ljunggren Editing by W Simon)