Canada's PM not worried about NAFTA, regardless of U.S. election winner

Fri Oct 7, 2016 7:32pm EDT
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By David Ljunggren and Stephen J. Adler

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday he was not overly worried about the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), even though the main U.S. presidential candidates have said they want to change the deal.

Trudeau told a Reuters Newsmaker event in Toronto that while he realized people around the world were genuinely angry about missing out on the benefits of free trade, turning back the clock on globalization was not the answer.

Canada, a major oil exporter, is struggling to cope with a prolonged slump in crude prices that has slashed budget revenues and led to higher unemployment. The sluggish economy could be hit further by changes to NAFTA in the wake of the Nov. 8 presidential vote given the country sends 75 percent of its exports to the United States.

"I know that the rhetoric gets heated in election campaigns, but the fact is that NAFTA has been incredibly good for all three of our economies," Trudeau said when asked whether he was concerned about the deal's future.

"It just makes sense for us to be working together as an integrated and harmonized economy," he added, saying he was "not overly worried" about the anti-NAFTA rhetoric and the accord's future.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has variously vowed to tear up or renegotiate the 1994 deal between the United States, Canada and Mexico. Democrat Hillary Clinton has also called for changes.

Trudeau, who is nearing the end of his first year in office, has declined to say which candidate he favors, only that he would be happy to work with whomever wins.

Canadian diplomats have been fanning out across the United States to talk up the benefits of trade with state and local leaders in the run-up to the election.   Continued...

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau poses for a picture in Toronto, Ontario, Canada October 7, 2016. REUTERS/Mark Blinch