Freeland sees U.S. 'enthusiasm' for easing cross-border trade
Published Monday, February 13, 2017 6:10PM EST
Last Updated Monday, February 13, 2017 6:13PM EST
After meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump and other top Washington officials, Canada’s foreign affairs minister said Monday that she sees enthusiasm for speeding up trade across the Canada-U.S. border.
Chrystia Freeland, the Liberals’ lead on Canada-U.S. trade, told CTV’s Power Play that “the good news” coming out of her meetings was a willingness “and indeed an enthusiasm” to work with Canada on finding ways “for people and goods in a safe and secure way to go across that border.”
Freeland pointed out that 400,000 people cross the border every day and Canada is the top export market for 35 of 50 U.S. states, so more preclearance for people and cargo could be a “real benefit to our economy and a real comparative advantage for Canadian exporters.”
Freeland added that “the most important message from today’s meeting was a real re-affirmation from our American partners that they really understand the extent to which we have a balanced, mutually beneficial trade relationship.”
The minister’s words came hours after Trump reassured Canadian business leaders after meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that he intends only to “tweak” the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose told reporters in Ottawa that she was not surprised by Trump’s comments, noting that congressional leaders had made clear to her that the U.S. administration regards Canada positively.
Some economists have expressed concern that the Trump administration’s crackdown on immigration and his blasting of free trade deals will lead to a slowdown of U.S.-Canada trade
In a joint communique issued Monday, Trump and Trudeau stated that they “recognize the security of our borders as a top priority.”
“Recognizing the success of pre-clearance operations for travelers, we commit to establishing pre-clearance operations for cargo,” the statement goes on.
“We intend to accelerate the completion of pre-clearance for additional cities and continue to expand this program. Not only will these efforts enhance efficiency at our shared border, they will also strengthen our shared security.”