Former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney says when it comes to a controversial clause in the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement that’s seen as targeting new trade deals with China, Canada did not give up its sovereignty.

“I think when you join any organization – the United Nations, NATO, NORAD, the G7 — you surrender a little bit of sovereignty in the interest of international cooperation, advancement, and success,” Mulroney told BNN Bloomberg’s Amanda Lang in an interview Wednesday.

Under the clause, article 32.10, every USMCA nation is required to notify the other two members three months before entering free trade talks with a non-market economy, like China.

But Mulroney doesn’t see this as a big concession for Canada.

“We’re not anywhere near a free trade deal with China, nor is anyone else,” Mulroney said.   

“So I think that in the fullness of time, this will all come to pass.”

Mulroney added that he thinks it’s important for Canada to have trade negotiations with China, India, and Indonesia, to shift the focus of this country’s development to the east.

More generally, the former prime minister stressed the overall importance of reaching the trilateral trade agreement, which still needs to be ratified by all three countries’ lawmakers.

He acknowledged the new deal is sometimes trivialized because Canada is such a small country, but said that this nation is an important player on the world stage.

“This is not small potatoes,” Mulroney said.

“Don’t let people tell you that this is like some kind of zero accomplishment. This is a huge achievement for Mexico, Canada, and the United States.”