Trade challenges from U.S. firms will continue to cause turbulence for Canada even if talks to modernize NAFTA are successful, a senior Canadian government official said on Tuesday.
Canada sends 75 percent of its goods exports to the United States and is vulnerable to what Ottawa complains is increasing U.S. protectionism since President Donald Trump took power in January 2017.
Talks to update the North American Free Trade Agreement are moving slowly as Canada and Mexico seek to address a series of radical U.S. demands for change. The negotiations were supposed to wrap up by end-March look set to overrun by months.
“Even if a new NAFTA were to be signed tomorrow I think we would still face a lot of turbulence in our relationship with the United States on trade,” said Timothy Sargent, the top bureaucrat in Canada’s Trade Ministry.
Sargent, speaking to an Ottawa conference organized by the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, noted recent U.S. moves to impose duties on Canadian softwood lumber, commercial airliners and some paper products. All were prompted by complaints from American firms.
Sargent also cited Trump’s recent move to place duties on imports of solar panels.
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