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August 15, 2017

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Canada looking to boost NAFTA

CANADA wants environmental protections added to a 23-year-old continental trade pact with Mexico and the United States, its top diplomat said yesterday, ahead of trilateral talks in two days.

These protections, as laid out in a speech by Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland at the University of Ottawa, would form part of stronger North American Free Trade Agreement labor provisions.

The proposed changes would also formally recognize gender and indigenous rights, and make it harder for companies to challenge government decisions that are in the “public interest,” she said.

NAFTA talks are scheduled to start tomorrow in Washington and last several months. Ottawa and Washington have diverged on environmental issues, with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau championing the fight against climate change, and President Donald Trump announcing the US withdrawal of the 2015 Paris accord on global warming.

But Canada has continued to cooperate with likeminded US states on climate issues.

“We can make NAFTA more progressive by bringing strong labor safeguards into the core of the agreement,” Freeland said, “by integrating enhanced environmental provisions to ensure no NAFTA country weakens environmental protection to attract investment, and that fully supports efforts to address climate change.”


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