In US swing, Trudeau mixes job deals with defense of NAFTA

In US swing, Trudeau mixes job deals with defense of NAFTA
Sat Feb 10, 2018 12:47:43

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau came with an unambiguous message on his latest US visit: the North American Free Trade Agreement is a success that needs to be modernized, not abandoned.

Washingtonpost-- With the next round of talks over the trade pact set to begin in Mexico later this month, Trudeau used a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library on Friday to cast the deal as part of a long history between the two countries that has been beneficial for both.

Yet he also echoed frequent criticism from President Donald Trump, who has threatened to pull out of NAFTA, that too many workers are being left behind in the global economy.

“We need to collectively do a much better job of ensuring the benefits of trade are shared more broadly,” Trudeau said.

The speech was a centerpiece on his swing in which he warned Canada won’t be muscled into a trade deal that is unfavorable to his country, while promoting Canada as a destination for California technology firms uneasy with shifting U.S. immigration policy.

After the speech, a California Highway Patrol motorcycle officer who was part of Trudeau’s motorcade crashed and was sent to a hospital with moderate injuries, the Ventura County Fire Department said. The vehicle carrying the prime minister was not involved and he was not hurt.

Trudeau picked up promises of investments and jobs during his first official visit to San Francisco. Among them: Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff announced the online business software company will invest another $2 billion in its Canadian operations.

He was scheduled to appear on Saturday in Los Angeles, with Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Trump called the 24-year-old agreement a job-killing “disaster” on the campaign trail, and he has threatened to pull out unless the deal requires more auto production in the U.S., while shifting additional government contracts to U.S. companies.

Trudeau argued that the deal has sent benefits both ways across the border.

He said 9 million jobs in America are tied to trade and investment with Canada and “the truth is that both Canada and the United States are winning. And so is Mexico. And that’s exactly how we should keep it.”

But he added: “President Trump and I agree about this: Too many people have been left behind, even as our economies surged.”

But an agreement, he warned, will take “a willingness to compromise on all sides.”

The location of the speech carried symbolic weight, alluding to the longstanding trade relationship between the U.S. and Canada. In 1988, Reagan and then-Prime Minister Brian Mulroney signed the first free trade agreement — a precursor to NAFTA.

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