Canada wants to keep free trade with US: PM Trudeau

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised Friday to explain to the Trump administration the importance of free trade between Canada and the United States, particularly for jobs.

US President Donald Trump is threatening to target countries, including Canada, that contribute to America’s substantial trade deficit — a move being taken as a protectionist warning shot.

The United States is Canada’s biggest trading partner, with a trade surplus on merchandise alone last year of Can$32.5 billion (US$24.4 billion).

Trudeau said it was “extremely important” to work with the Trump administration on the issue, without dramatizing the US decision to target Canada along with more than a dozen other countries.

“The United States regularly assess their trade partners, there is nothing particularly new about this,” Trudeau told a press conference.

“We know the conversations we will be having on how we can improve trade, freedom to send goods of services people across the border. It’s good for both of our countries,” he said.

“We emphasize with the Americans… that there are many jobs in Canada that create jobs in the United States and vice versa. We do better when we have open and robust relationships in international trade.”

He said the neighboring countries had “a very positive working relationship” to ensure good jobs on both sides of the boder.

Canada is linked to the United States and Mexico through the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which Trump wants to renegotiate.

The Canadian premier said the agreement “has been improved upon.”

He said good jobs on both US and Canadian soil “rely on the smooth and efficient flow of goods and services and people” across the border, adding that “growth for the middle class” was a shared goal.

In addition to an ongoing conflict over US curbs on imports of Canadian timber, dairy products are also a source of discord between the two partners.

Trump is set to sign an executive order Friday requiring staff to pinpoint countries and goods responsible for America’s nearly $50 billion a month trade deficit.


© Agence France-Presse