Trade talks with the United States are proving to be difficult since Canada is facing a trading partner that does not necessarily see the benefits of free trade, Rona Ambrose, a member of Canada’s NAFTA Advisory Council, told BNN in an interview.
“I think it’s important that Canadians aren’t naive and thinking we are going into these talks…with a partner on the other side of the table that is pro free-trade, perhaps not even pro fair-trade,” said Ambrose. “That’s a tough negotiator to go up with.”
Negotiators are meeting in Ottawa this weekend to kick off the third round of renegotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement. U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized the 23-year-old trade agreement and threatened to withdraw from the deal if substantial changes are not made.
Trump is not looking to negotiate a deal that is good for Canada, Mexico and the United States, but rather is looking for a deal where the U.S. will come out on top, said Ambrose.
“[Donald Trump] is pro ‘America First’ and this is about American nationalism, it is about America first,” she said. “It all sounds populist and good to an American, but how do you actually translate that into text that would go into a trade agreement?”
Ambrose, the former interim leader of the Conservative Party, says Canada’s united NAFTA front stands in stark contrast to the U.S. which has deep divisions about what the negotiations should accomplish.
“There isn’t a lot of common ground in terms of the approach the U.S. is taking on the U.S. side,” she said.