Canada, The United States and Mexico begin the task of reforming the North American Free Trade Agreement on Wednesday, and if the pre-negotiation talk is any indication, the three nations have a lot of ground to cover.

Many issues have been outlined and priorities highlighted in the months since U.S. President Donald Trump swept into office and promised to renegotiate an agreement he called “a trading disaster.”

BNN asked observers and stakeholders this week to outline the themes, issues and bargaining chips that should be in the forefront as the talks get underway.


Trade Lawyer: Freeland's six NAFTA priorities have no real substance; just an 'invitation to the dance'

Mark Warner, Principal at MAAW Law joins BNN to provide perspective on Canada's six NAFTA priorities outlined by Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland earlier today.


“Americans don’t like Chapter 19, which is the system of reviewing dumping and counter-veiling duty determinations by agency, and they don’t like it because of the perceived loss of sovereignty. … I think we may have to wait and see just how much the Americans want to dig in. What’s clear is that the key trade people around Trump don’t like Chapter 19. I think that will be some kind of a red line for the Canadian government... Whether it should be or not? I think hopefully Canadians will debate that over time.” 

-- Mark Warner, principal at MAAW Law


What Canada's offensive priorities should be for NAFTA

Former Canadian trade negotiator and current executive fellow at the School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary, Andrei Sulzenko, joins BNN for a closer look at trade strategies as NAFTA talks approach.


“Recent events under the previous administration in the U.S. said, ‘Well, we may not let you pipe your oil into the U.S.’ So, I would say, ‘Why should Canada in the future NAFTA have to run the risks of that happening again?’ If you want a continental energy market – which I think is in all three countries’ interests – then you should make sure it’s open and it can’t arbitrarily be closed. … Energy trade is generally open but what we need to do is to make sure we have a framework to keep it open.”

-Andrei Sulzenko, executive fellow at the School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary


Dairy Farmers of Canada: Forget it, milk's not part of NAFTA

With NAFTA negotiations around the corner, the Dairy Farmers of Canada are confident that, "politicians will do well to listen to our concerns." Vice President David Wiens tells BNN why supply management makes sense.


“Dairy was not part of the original NAFTA agreement and we don’t see any real evidence that indicates it should be part of any future negotiation. … Certainly we continue to advocate with our federal government that supply management not be part of the negotiations.”

- David Wiens, Vice President, Dairy Farmers of Canada

Why the softwood deal before NAFTA talks is not critical

Brenda Swick, a partner at Dickinson Wright, has previously represented the Quebec Softwood Lumber industry in the anti-dumping and countervailing duty cases against imports of softwood lumber from Canada. She joins BNN to give us some insight into why the Canadian softwood industry shouldn't worry about getting confirmation on a softwood deal before NAFTA talks begin on August 16.


“They’ve been through some pretty tough negotiations, but an obvious thing they could do immediately off the front is Canada could eliminate log export restrictions in British Columbia, especially on private land, as an opening gesture to the Americans to come to that agreement that the Canadian industry wants.”

- Brenda Swick, partner, Dickinson Wright


How NAFTA could affect jobs, goods in the Toronto-Waterloo region

Jan De Silva, president and CEO of the Toronto Region Board of Trade, joins BNN for a look at how NAFTA plays a role in the movement of people as well as goods in the Toronto-Waterloo region, Canada's busiest transportation hub.


“The United States has a lot of high-profile e-commerce companies – Amazon, Facebook, Google, etc. – [who] are going to want continued full access to the Canadian market under NAFTA, and that’s a good thing for consumers. We don’t have those kinds of companies here in Canada; but we do have some sort of new companies that are starting up [and] we’re going to want to make sure that they have access to the U.S. market, or - if they don’t - they’re going to move to the United States. We don’t want that to happen.”

-Jan De Silva, president and CEO, Toronto Region Board of Trade


Trade minister says Canada is prepared, not complacent ahead of NAFTA talks

Minister of International Trade François-Philippe Champagne discusses where Canada stands ahead of NAFTA renegotiations with the U.S.


“I think we’re very well-prepared. You’ve seen from day one that this is Team Canada playing. Not only the Prime Minister, but cabinet ministers, provincial ministers, premiers, mayors, business people. This has been Team Canada playing to make sure that our U.S. counterparts understand the breadth and depth of our relationship. … We’ve been lucky that we’ve established a level of trust. I think Prime Minister Trudeau, with President Trump [enjoy] a very trusting relationship between the two leaders and that’s serving Canada very well.”

-François-Philippe Champagne, Canada’s Minister of International Trade


'He made people proud of the resources they had': CAPP CEO on Brad Wall's resignation

Tim McMillan, president and CEO of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, joins BNN to discuss Brad Wall's legacy and how his retirement will impact Canadian politics.


“We have to make sure that agreement is modernized, but let’s keep those markets open. We’ve been diversifying our export interests to Asia successfully over the last 10 years. We were 60 per cent dependent on the U.S. for our exports, we’re now closer to 50, but it’s still half. We need that relationship, we need to have it barrier-free in terms of trade and I think the risk is that we back up at all from the level of freedom we have in the flow of goods and services between our two countries.”

-Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall


Peter MacKay: NAFTA talks to continue well into the New Year

Peter MacKay, partner at Baker & McKenzie, discusses how Minister Freeland adding new items to Canada's NAFTA wish list might impact trade negotiations. He also tells BNN why he believes NAFTA talks are likely to continue on well into the new year.


“I think the motivation was domestic politics. I think it was putting down markers to say to the Canadian people and to say to perhaps the progressive electorate who put them in power: ‘We’re not losing sight of your issues.’ How it will be interpreted on the American side and even the Mexican side is also an important consideration. I think the Mexicans will be curious. The Americans stand to be a little put off by this. Climate change is obviously not an agenda item for them. The gender and indigenous people agenda is also not something that I can imagine they’d want to inject into an already very complex negotiation.”

-Peter MacKay, former Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister


Canada, U.S., Mexico can become most powerful trading block in the world: Colorado governor

John Hickenlooper, governor of Colorado, weighs in on what he wants to see out of the NAFTA renegotiations.


“I don’t think that the President’s office has come forward with a lot of clarity of exactly what their ultimate goals are. We had a lot of kind of sweeping projections, that we’re going to make revolutionary changes in NAFTA. … I’m hopeful that that translates into a more carefully-crafted and more incremental set of changes that don’t really disrupt the basic partnership that has been so powerful between the United States and Canada for so many years.”

-Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper


Finding the "Canadian arm on the space ship" of NAFTA renegotiations

Som Seif, CEO of Purpose Investments, says Canada needs to find two or three areas, aside from natural resources, that can be of value in NAFTA negotiations. He dubs these the "Canadian arm on the space ship" of the talks.


“The thing that I would like to see followed through [from Canada] is the willingness to walk away from the table if things aren’t going the way that you want. If the U.S. starts to become very volatile in their negotiation stance – which is the way Trump has for the most part been working – I’d like to see Canada be able to say, ‘You know what? No deal is actually the best thing right now.’”

-Som Seif, CEO, Purpose Investments