#Canada; #US; #NAFTA; #CUSMA; #USMCA; #Covid19
Ottawa, Jul 6 (Canadian-Media): Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he would not join his North American counterparts in Washington, D.C., this week to celebrate the updated North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) deal, called CUSMA in Canada and USMCA in the United States (US), which came into force on July 1, media reports said.
Justin Trudeau. Image credit: Facebook page
U.S. President Donald Trump is hosting a bilateral meeting on July 8 for Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador in Washington.
Trudeau's main concern for not attending the Washington meeting was COVID-19 pandemic as Canadian public health rules would mean he would have to quarantine for two weeks upon his return.
"While there were recent discussions about the possible participation of Canada, the prime minister will be in Ottawa this week for scheduled cabinet meetings and the long-planned sitting of Parliament," Chantal Gagnon, a spokesperson for the Prime Minister's Office, said in a statement.
Trudeau said he was also concerned about the proposed issue of tariffs on aluminum and steel that the Americans have floated recently, in reference to a Trump's statement last month at reintroducing tariffs on Canadian aluminum.
Tariffs imposed by the U.S. on steel and aluminum in 2018 led to a nearly yearlong trade argument.
In retaliation, Canada levied tariffs on U.S. goods until a deal to lift them was reached in May, 2019.
Ever since Trump first demanded the NAFTA trade pact be reopened, Chrystia Freeland, the foreign affairs minister at that time was overseeing its development and spent months shuttling back and forth between Ottawa and Washington in 2018 and 2019 in continuing to oversee the deal even after being named deputy prime minister after the election last October.
On June 29 an Order in Council was passed to transfer the responsibility of implementing the NAFTA deal to International Trade Minister Mary Ng, as outlined in the legislation.