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Trudeau Warns Trump Not to Blame Canada

Oct 10, 2017 (Baystreet.ca via COMTEX) --

When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday, he will try to persuade him to focus on Mexico as a source of potential problems at talks to update NAFTA.

Although Trudeau officials were confident Trump would mostly target Mexico as the three nations started to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, Washington has slapped duties on Bombardier airliners and Canadian lumber exports in recent months and talked tough on dairy and wine.

Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said Trudeau would "explain really clearly to the President ... that Canada is not America's problem".

Freeland, who says Canada buys more from the United States than China, Britain and Japan combined, told media outlets Sunday that Trudeau's message to Trump at their White House meeting would be "We are your biggest client."

Trump has threatened to scrap the 1994 pact unless changes are made to address issues such as a $64-billion deficit with Mexico. Negotiators start the fourth of seven planned rounds of talks near Washington on Wednesday.

Freeland describes the U.S. administration as the most protectionist since the 1930s while noting the United States runs a surplus in the trade of goods and services with Canada.

Canada has so far shied from confrontation with Washington, stressing instead the merits of NAFTA and free trade. By no means everyone south of the border is convinced.

Trudeau officials deny Trump is targeting Canada as part of the NAFTA talks, saying the airliner and softwood disputes have been rumbling on for years.

Mexico has been more assertive with Washington, talking openly about abandoning NAFTA if need be or slashing imports of U.S. grain.

Andres Rozental, a former Mexican deputy foreign minister involved in the original NAFTA talks, said Ottawa had assumed traditionally close ties with the United States would insulate them from problems with NAFTA.

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