Canada could make some gains if NAFTA reopened: negotiators
By Leah Schnurr
OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada, fearful of talk by the U.S. presidential candidates to reopen the North American Free Trade Agreement, could use the opportunity to push for a better deal on worker mobility, dispute resolutions and other issues, Canadian negotiators of the original pact said.
Republican Donald Trump calls NAFTA the worst trade deal signed by the United States and Democrat Hillary Clinton has signaled a change of position on the 1994 pact she supported when it became law under her husband, former president Bill Clinton.
The agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico is often used for political grist in U.S. election campaigns but altering it is a major concern for export-oriented Canada.
In 2008, Barack Obama campaigned on renegotiating the treaty with tougher labor and environmental standards, a pledge that fell to the wayside when he became president in January 2009.
But the idea has taken hold more strongly in 2016 and Mexico has said it is ready to update the treaty. Canada has said NAFTA is in the best interest of all three countries.
If Canada were forced to renegotiate, one issue it could target is the pact's investor-state dispute settlement provision.
The United States wanted it included in the original deal to protect U.S. investments in Mexico. It has since been used by American companies to sue Canadian federal and provincial governments. TransCanada Corp is using the provision to seek billions from the U.S. government for rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline.
That would probably be an area of mutual concern for Canada and the United States given those unintended consequences, said Derek Burney, Canada's former U.S. ambassador, who was involved in the original negotiations. Continued...