U.S. officials tout new NAFTA, COVID-19 teamwork in Canada Day messages
OTTAWA -- The coming into effect of the new North American Free Trade Agreement and the cross-border collaboration in the ongoing fight against COVID-19 were the focus of statements of well-wishes from U.S. officials on Canada Day.
“As countries around the world face the health and economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are proud to see our partnership with Canada in action. We have engaged in joint efforts to protect Canadians and Americans, and witnessed the dedication and service of frontline workers on both sides of the border,” said U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a statement.
The Canada-U.S. border has been closed to non-essential travel since mid-March and is set to stay that way until July 21 at least, as a number of states are now seeing massive spikes in new COVID-19 cases, while the epidemic in Canada has slowed considerably, outside of a few ongoing “hotspots.”
In a separate statement, U.S. Charge d'Affaires Richard Mills—who represents the U.S. Embassy on behalf of incoming ambassador Aldona Wos—leaned on the importance of the Canada-U.S. relationship in facing the global pandemic.
“Officials in both countries have been in constant contact to manage the threat on both sides of the border as well as help combat the virus globally,” Mills said.
During his Canada Day address Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also made note of the vastly different circumstances under which this national holiday is being celebrated.
“This year is unlike any other,” Trudeau said.
NOTING NEW NAFTA
Both statements also touched on the landmark occasion of the new trilateral trade pact CUSMA or USMCA, depending on which side of the border you are on, coming into effect.
As of July 1 the renegotiated NAFTA is now in effect, three years after talks first began to rework the trilateral trade agreement between Canada, the United States, and Mexico.
The coming-into-force of this revamped deal comes after it was ratified in all three countries’ respective legislative bodies. The new trade pact brings with it a series of changes to several sectors, including concessions that will hit Canada’s supply managed sectors.
Pompeo framed the new deal as “jump-starting economic recovery,” and Mills reflected on the years of work that went in to seeing the updated agreement come to life.
In her own statement noting the occasion, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland sought to also tie the benefits of the new NAFTA to the ongoing economic push to stimulate a shaken economy.
“The new NAFTA protects jobs and prosperity for workers in all three NAFTA countries. It is good for Canada and good for Canadian workers. It will help ensure that North America emerges stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Freeland said.
The Canada Day statements from U.S. counterparts come amid anxiety in Canada’s aluminum sector, as U.S. President Donald Trump’s threat of re-imposing of tariffs on Canadian aluminum looms, which neither American official touched on.