Netizen 24 NGA: Trudeau talks up NAFTA in meeting with US trade lawmakers

Trudeau talks up NAFTA in meeting with US trade lawmakers ...

Trudeau talks up NAFTA in meeting with US trade lawmakers

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Top Republican on Ways and Means Committee says he wants to pry open Canada's dairy sector

The Canadian Press Posted: Oct 11, 2017 1:10 PM ET Last Updated: Oct 11, 2017 1:10 PM ET

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau takes part in a meeting with the H   ouse Ways and Means committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau takes part in a meeting with the House Ways and Means committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Justin Trudeau is meeting with Washington power brokers in an effort to preserve the Canada-U.S. trading relationship.

The prime minister is meeting on Capitol Hill with dozens of members of the powerful House of Representatives committee that oversees trade negotiations, and will later meet President Donald Trump at the White House.

The visit occurs amid early signs of trouble in the NAFTA negotiations, with big business groups now expressing fear the quarter-century-old deal could disappear.

Trudeau said Canada buys more goods from the U.S. than China, Japan, and t he U.K. combined, and that he's committed to maintaining and modernizing that trade relationship.

U.S. lawmakers stood and clapped when he walked in, and senior members of both major parties echoed his view that trade with Canada is mutually beneficial.

But there were also signs of discord: the top Republican says he wants to pry open Canada's dairy sector, the top Democrat wants to see free trade in cultural products and some progressive lawmakers were outside with anti-NAFTA protesters.

In his meeting with Trump, Trudeau is expected to remind the president that Canada is the United States' biggest export customer, with largely balanced two-way goods and services trade, and is not the cause of U.S. manufacturing jobs lost under NAFTA, Canadian officials said.

NAFTA talks bleed into next week

The Washington round of NAFTA renegociations promises to be difficult, with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer saying early on Wednesday that talks would be extended by two days to Oct 17.

The talks kick off with a discussion of government procurement, already a thorny subject as U.S. negotiators suggested during the last round in Ottawa they want to limit Canadian and Mexican access to U.S. projects.

After that, discussions will move onto developing remedies for trade disputes and on Saturday, the discussions are expected to turn to agriculture.

Lighthizer said the three nations have ended their negotiations regarding competition.

Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray warned that an end to NAFTA would mark a breaking point in U.S.-Mexican relations and affect bilateral cooperation in non-trade areas.

Trudeau Washington Mexico 20171011

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau takes part in a Women One roundtable discussion a t the Case Foundation in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Trudeau said he sees room for modernizing the deal, but also to make it more progressive.

"Putting progressive elements into trade deals â€" labour protections, environmental protections â€" actually helps us make the case for trade and reassure people that the benefits of trade will be distributed more fairly and not just to the small number of people who've always benefited from it in the past."

Prior to delving into trade issues Wednesday, he attended a roundtable discussion with two organizations devoted to empowering women and girls around the world.

Among those in attendance were senior female executives with Google and Twitter, organizations including the Nike Foundation, McKinsey and JPMorgan Chase and Arianna Huffington, founder of Huffington Post.

Trudeau noted the diverse backgrounds and strengths in the group, but said they too often work in isolation.

"We don't necessarily convene a broad enough group to reach out beyond where we can touch ourselves, and being able to break down these silos and pull people together is really important," he said.

"How we empower women and girls around the world is going to make the defining difference in whether we make it as a 21st century species or not."

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Netizen 24 Nigeria: Netizen 24 NGA: Trudeau talks up NAFTA in meeting with US trade lawmakers
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