PM Trudeau applying pressure on U.S. in NAFTA talks, says Wilbur Ross
Melanie Marquis, The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, January 24, 2018 4:14AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, January 24, 2018 5:20PM EST
DAVOS, Switzerland -- Prime Minister Justin Trudeau used his speech at the World Economic Forum to apply pressure on the United States in the NAFTA renegotiation, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross suggested Wednesday.
Trudeau said Tuesday that Canada and the 10 remaining members of the TPP had revised their trade pact in the wake of the U.S. withdrawal and that the country was "working very hard" to convince President Donald Trump of NAFTA's merits.
Ross, who arrived at the economic forum in Switzerland on Wednesday, told reporters Trudeau's speech was designed "to put a little pressure on the U.S. in the NAFTA talks."
Later, during a television interview on U.S. network CNBC, Ross was asked whether he thought NAFTA would be renegotiated.
"I think there is a good chance of it," he replied. "I think everybody would prefer to have it be a satisfactory deal for all three parties. But the president has made it clear that if it's not a deal that he likes he won't do it."
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin added the Trump administration believes in "bilateral trading agreements" but wants to make sure "U.S. opportunities are equal to other people's opportunities in the U.S."
Trudeau's announcement about the new TPP came as the NAFTA partners gathered in Montreal for a week of negotiations.
There are concerns the efforts in Montreal could be affected by the new TPP, but the chief negotiators for Canada and Mexico brushed aside that notion Tuesday.
"It's pretty much separate tracks," Canada's lead negotiator, Steve Verheul, told The Canadian Press in Montreal.
Trudeau participated in a roundtable discussion in Davos later on Wednesday with several U.S. business leaders.
The session involved several heavy hitters, including the CEOs of Dow Chemical, UPS, Cargill, Qualcomm Inc., Tyson Foods and the New York Stock Exchange.
When he emerged from the meeting, Trudeau said the discussion touched on the jobs in Canada and the United States that rely on NAFTA.
"We talked a lot about ensuring that citizens and workers and families on both sides of the border understand the integrated supply chains, the trade back and forth between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, has been tremendously beneficial and we're going to keep working on it," he said.
In the early evening, Trudeau met with the head of Royal Dutch Shell, Ben van Beurden, who said in front of reporters his company is looking to invest in a major "green" project in Canada.
"We are looking indeed ... probably investing in the greenest and cleanest energy project ever built and probably looking at the largest single investment ever made in Canada," van Beurden said without elaborating.
To which Trudeau replied, "Very exciting."
The prime minister also met with the heads of Salesforce, Ericsson, DP World as well as with Argentine President Mauricio Macri. His message with world and business leaders remained the same: Canada is open for business.
Trudeau met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the economic forum on Wednesday, but the Canadian media travelling with the prime minister did not receive a customary notification in advance.
The Prime Minister's Office later apologized for issuing a late notice and promised to provide a summary of what it called a "last-minute pull-aside" meeting between the two men.
A later statement from the PMO said Trudeau and Netanyahu discussed the regional security situation in the Middle East, including the status of the peace process. They also talked about Iran's position within the region.
The Trudeau-Netanyahu chat came weeks after the Canadian government chose to abstain from voting on a resolution condemning Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to relocate the American embassy.
Trump is scheduled to speak in Davos on Friday after Trudeau returns home.
Before leaving Switzerland on Thursday, Trudeau will meet other high-profile executives, including the head of the Coca-Cola Co. and the president of FIFA.
He is also scheduled to attend a public session on the empowerment of girls and women and be joined by Pakistani activist and honorary Canadian citizen Malala Yousafzai.
-- With files from The Associated Press