Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland is "encouraged" by the recent NAFTA negotiations with the country’s major trading partners, Mexico and the United States, and is "looking forward to the conversation" with lead trade negotiator, Robert Lighthizer, on Wednesday.
"These concessions are really going to be important for workers in Canada and the United States," Freeland said of the newly revamped 1994 agreement. The United States is Canada's biggest trading partner.
Now Freeland, Lighthizer and Mexico's head NAFTA negotiator, Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray, will have to work fast to reach their Friday deadline to approve the newest version of the North American Free Trade Agreement that was redesigned at the behest of U.S. President Donald Trump.
Videgaray told Mexican media on Tuesday the three sides would work for a deal that all can agree on: "We are now going to devote long hours to the negotiation with Canada," he said.
The deal presented to Canada includes an auto agreement that would enact an import tariff of 25 percent on Mexican-made passenger vehicles above 2.4 million annually.
The deal also includes clauses still highly contentious to Canada, such as the elimination of an agricultural anti-dumping rule agreed upon last week between Mexico and the United States, and a 25-year extension for copyright protections from 50 to 75 years, much higher than Canada has previously supported.
In addition, the new agreement will "establish a notice-and-takedown system for copyright safe harbors for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that provides protection for IP and predictability for legitimate technology enterprises who do not directly benefit from the infringement, consistent with United States law," according to a U.S. press release.
Essentially, Internet content or websites can be taken down if suspected of copyright infringement under the new deal, even if it has not been proven the content is copyrighted.
"I think that's the really big issue that we've seen in the States: a lot of mistaken takedowns," Laura Tribe, executive director of OpenMedia, told Canada's Global News.
"The notice and take-down system is used as a way to take down content that people don't like, instead of content that is actually a copyright infringement. It's really an abusive system."
Dan Ujczo – a Columbus, Ohio-based trade lawyer who focuses on U.S.-Canada issues – said it will be difficult for Freeland to renegotiate these points: "I think he's going to sit there with his arms folded a lot," Ujczo said, referring to Lighthizer.
Trump said on Monday he would leave Canada out of the deal if they weren't on board, moving forward to sign a deal with Mexico alone and levying tariffs on Canada. U.S. lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have warned a bilateral U.S.-Mexico trade deal won't pass.
A trilateral deal would need only 51 votes in the Senate, while a bilateral pact would need 60.
Trump said he expected concessions on Canada's dairy protections, which Trudeau, as of Tuesday, said he will continue to defend.
According to Reuters, Canada's dairy farmers operate under a protectionist system that manages supplies and prices and imposes high tariffs to limit imports. U.S. demands have ranged from ending those tariffs to eliminating a dairy pricing system.
"It seems like a pretty steep challenge to now resolve these issues in three days," said David Wines, a Manitoba dairy farmer and vice-president of industry group Dairy Farmers of Canada.
If talks with Canada are not wrapped up by Friday, Trump plans to notify Congress that he intends to sign a deal with Mexico, but would be open to Canada joining, Lighthizer told reporters on Monday.
Trade among the three countries amounted to US$1.2 trillion last year.