Trade

From shouts to smiles: How Trump got to yes on NAFTA

Everyone from U.S. President Donald Trump to Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland was smiling Monday as they announced a new NAFTA deal, but it took months of shouting sessions and mutual suspicion to get there.

The two sides clashed on issues as broad as auto-production rules and as tangential as world history.

Negotiations were especially tense at one point last fall when one story after another popped up on Canadian news sites about unusual U.S. proposals. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer scolded his Canadian counterparts over media leaks. The Americans fumed as their proposals went from the negotiating table to the internet and their counterparts whispered in the hallways.

“We could literally see them [leaking],” one American official later observed.

But all those differences were swept aside over the weekend. Sources close to the action say the eleventh-hour deal came together as a result of deadline pressure, willingness to compromise and Trumps constant threat of hitting Canadas extensive auto industry with tariffs if it didnt agree to a new deal.

On Friday, Ottawa celebrated news it would be allowed to keep a coveted dispute-resolution chapter. Trumps son-in-law, Jared Kushner, played a key role to help ease differences over that issue involving Chapter 19. The Canadians then moved forward a proposal to open its dairy markets — which was enough for the U.S. to pull back on plans that were in motion to submit a deal that included just Mexico.

The trade pact announced late Sunday night still faces many hurdles, including congressional approval, before it can go into effect. But for all parties, the real victory was putting aside differences long enough to come up with a compromise.

The issue of looming U.S. tariffs on automobiles was the last detail to be nailed down. In a group chat Sunday evening involving Freeland, Lighthizer, and their officials, Canada was given what amounts to a de facto exemption: No auto tariffs, ever, unless theres an improbable surge in Canadian exports.

The deal was done.

The Canadians insist it wasnt tariff pressure that led to a deal, as claimed by Trump. They said the U.S. was aware long ago of Canadas willingness to make concessions on its tightly controlled dairy market as well as its receptiveness to increasing the amount of online-shopping orders that could be imported duty-free.

What sealed the deal, according to the Canadians, were swift steps last week from the U.S. to get an agreement before its self-imposed October 1 deadline.

The pivotal turning point came after the U.S. began verbally communicating its willingness to maintain Canadas coveted Chapter 19 — the section of the old North American Free Trade Agreement that allows one country to challenge anothers tariffs over allegations of unfairly traded products. The formal offer came in a document delivered Friday, prompting a celebratory reaction in Ottawa.

Thats the day Canada put forward its proposal to open dairy markets. Separately, Kushner also played a crucial role in getting U.S. officials to back off demands to drop the Chapter 19 language in exchange for accepting Canadian dairy concessions.

Lighthizer, a longtime trade attorney who spent a career helping steel companies and other domestic firms secure tariffs for unfair trading practices, viewed the dispute mechanism as a direct attack on U.S. sovereignty.

“In essence, Kushner was the peacemaker from the White House because Lighthizer on his own had such passionate feelings on Chapter 19 that this wasnt something he was going to happily give up,” said a source close to the talks.

For their part, the Canadians hated some of Lighthizers ideas on trade. And they had no qualms about letting the world know.

During a heated negotiation round in Washington in October 2017, one story after another popped up on Canadian news sites about U.S. proposals: a requirement that every car contain at least half American parts to qualify for reduced tariffs. The effective gutting of all dispute-resolution systems. A clause potentially killing the deal after five years.

Ping, ping, ping. The proposals went straight from the negotiating table to the internet. Canadians reacted in disbelief, as much of pro-trade Washington did.

American officials at that round fumed about the hallway whispering. Lighthizer made clear to the Canadians his hatred of media leaks.

This is after Freeland gave Lighthizer some books as a present. She knew the battle-hardened trade negotiator had a soft spot for historical tomes.

So Freeland delivered three, as part of a so-called NAFTA negotiators book club she created. She gave Lighthizer books on human history, including Margaret MacMillans “The War That Ended Peace.”

The books central message: A prosperous, interconnected era of accelerated globalization came to a crashing halt in the early 20th century, spiraling into a vortex of protectionism and nationalism that culminated in the most murderous three decades in human history.

The point was not subtle.

Freeland herself admitted that she was making a connection to current events. “As with today, the beginning of the 20th century was marked by unprecedented globalization and growth,” Freeland, a former globe-trotting journalist and author, said last year. The events between the turn of the century and the outbreak of war in 1914 are a useful reminder [of] the fragility of the world order and the pitfalls of protectionism and retreat.”

The odd couple of NAFTA had their flare-ups; in the spring, Lighthizer and Freeland again sparred, this time over the proposed five-year sunset clause.

He snapped at her again the next day, when details of that griping session found their way into the news. This time, Freeland was flummoxed. The Canadians insisted they had no idea where this leak originated.

In the end, they came to an amicable settlement. It included a separation period during the summer, as Lighthizer worked on a NAFTA deal with Mexico instead.

One senior White House official fumed to POLITICO recently that Freeland had gotten under everyones skin, sparing nobody: “And I mean nobody.”

By Monday, though, bygones were bygones.

“At different moments things looked closer. At different moments things looked further, at least from the medias perspective,” Kushner said during a Monday press briefing. “But from the interaction weve had with our teams, Id say the working relationship between Ambassador Lighthizer, myself and our counterparts in those countries has remained fully intact.”

Still, Ottawa was acutely aware of Trumps threat to hit Canadas massive auto industry with new tariffs.

At a rare and rambling solo press conference last Wednesday, the president reupped his auto tariff threat. In a thinly veiled reference to Freeland, he expressed disdain for Canadas negotiating team.

“He personally attacked Freeland,” said one source close to the Canadian government. “This raised some concerns and then there began to be some discussions between Mexico and people in the Canadian government.”

Trumps attack helped set into motion the flurry of activity that eventually led to the deal on Sunday night, the source said.

The U.S. had set a deadline of midnight on Sunday to publish a deal so that departing Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto could sign the deal before he leaves office.

“It became clear when we started to see that things we said were absolute necessities in us accepting a deal — that they began to move on them, we realized they really did want to get this done before the midnight deadline,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during a press conference on Monday.

Trudeau praised Freeland as having successfully completed the most complicated assignment of any Canadian Cabinet minister in a generation. He even said nice things about Lighthizer.

“He is a tough, principled negotiator,” Trudeau said. “But he also understands and appreciates Canada. Its fair to say that this would not have come together without him.”

Freeland called Lighthizers flexibility on autos earlier this year the true historic turning point in the negotiations.

“I said when we began that there would be moments of drama, and there have been,” Freeland said. “Through it all, Ambassador Lighthizer has been a professional, reliable and trustworthy counterpart. And I can say especially after the past few weeks of very intense negotiations, what we called our continuous negotiation, hes someone I consider a friend.”

Read this next: Welcome to Europes club for populists

Related Articles

57 Comments

  1. Wow that was odd. I just wrote an really long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyways, just wanted to say fantastic blog!

  2. Thank you for the auspicious writeup. It in fact was a amusement account it. Look advanced to more added agreeable from you! However, how could we communicate?

  3. Hi there! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and tell you I genuinely enjoy reading your blog posts. Can you suggest any other blogs/websites/forums that go over the same subjects? Thank you!

  4. Great wordpress blog here.. It’s hard to find quality writing like yours these days. I really appreciate people like you! take care

  5. I am not sure where you are getting your information, but great topic. I needs to spend some time learning more or understanding more. Thanks for magnificent info I was looking for this info for my mission.

  6. I loved as much as you’ll receive carried out right here. The sketch is attractive, your authored subject matter stylish. nonetheless, you command get got an edginess over that you wish be delivering the following. unwell unquestionably come more formerly again as exactly the same nearly very often inside case you shield this hike.

  7. I do enjoy the way you have framed this specific concern plus it does give me personally a lot of fodder for consideration. Nonetheless, from what I have observed, I basically wish as other opinions stack on that men and women remain on issue and don’t get started upon a soap box of some other news of the day. All the same, thank you for this excellent point and while I can not necessarily go along with this in totality, I value your point of view.

  8. Hmm it seems like your website ate my first comment (it was extremely long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I had written and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. I as well am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still new to everything. Do you have any points for rookie blog writers? I’d really appreciate it.

  9. I precisely had to thank you so much all over again. I am not sure the things I would’ve worked on without the type of solutions discussed by you about such a theme. It actually was the troublesome matter in my position, nevertheless considering the very professional manner you solved the issue made me to leap with contentment. I’m just grateful for your help and thus hope that you really know what a great job you have been doing training the rest through the use of your blog post. More than likely you’ve never met any of us.

  10. Hi! This is kind of off topic but I need some advice from an established blog. Is it tough to set up your own blog? I’m not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty quick. I’m thinking about setting up my own but I’m not sure where to start. Do you have any points or suggestions? Appreciate it

  11. Hey there! Someone in my Myspace group shared this site with us so I came to give it a look. I’m definitely enjoying the information. I’m bookmarking and will be tweeting this to my followers! Outstanding blog and superb design and style.

  12. I’ve been browsing online more than three hours these days, but I never discovered any fascinating article like yours. It is pretty value sufficient for me. Personally, if all web owners and bloggers made excellent content material as you probably did, the net shall be much more helpful than ever before.

  13. Great site you have here but I was curious if you knew of any message boards that cover the same topics talked about in this article? I’d really love to be a part of online community where I can get comments from other knowledgeable people that share the same interest. If you have any recommendations, please let me know. Thanks!

  14. Howdy very cool web site!! Guy .. Beautiful .. Amazing .. I’ll bookmark your site and take the feeds also…I’m happy to find numerous helpful information right here within the submit, we’d like work out more strategies on this regard, thank you for sharing.

  15. I’ve recently started a web site, the info you offer on this site has helped me tremendously. Thank you for all of your time & work. “A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.” by Ayn Rand.

  16. Thank you so much for providing individuals with such a superb possiblity to read critical reviews from this blog. It really is so terrific and as well , jam-packed with a good time for me personally and my office fellow workers to visit your site a minimum of thrice weekly to see the latest things you will have. Not to mention, I’m actually motivated with your outstanding inspiring ideas you give. Some 1 areas in this article are undeniably the very best we’ve had.

  17. Great V I should definitely pronounce, impressed with your web site. I had no trouble navigating through all the tabs and related info ended up being truly easy to do to access. I recently found what I hoped for before you know it at all. Reasonably unusual. Is likely to appreciate it for those who add forums or anything, website theme . a tones way for your client to communicate. Excellent task..

  18. I wish to show some appreciation to the writer just for bailing me out of this trouble. Just after surfing throughout the the net and coming across techniques which were not helpful, I believed my life was gone. Living devoid of the strategies to the difficulties you have fixed through the article content is a critical case, and the ones that could have negatively damaged my entire career if I hadn’t come across your web blog. Your personal understanding and kindness in taking care of all the stuff was helpful. I don’t know what I would have done if I had not come across such a subject like this. I’m able to at this moment look forward to my future. Thank you very much for this specialized and results-oriented help. I won’t be reluctant to refer your web site to any person who needs recommendations on this subject.

  19. Hey very nice blog!! Guy .. Excellent .. Wonderful .. I will bookmark your website and take the feeds also…I’m happy to seek out so many helpful information here within the post, we need work out more techniques in this regard, thank you for sharing. . . . . .

  20. I was wondering if you ever considered changing the structure of your site? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say. But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having one or 2 pictures. Maybe you could space it out better?

  21. I think other website proprietors should take this site as an model, very clean and fantastic user friendly style and design, as well as the content. You’re an expert in this topic!

  22. I would like to thank you for the efforts you have put in writing this site. I am hoping the same high-grade web site post from you in the upcoming also. Actually your creative writing skills has inspired me to get my own blog now. Actually the blogging is spreading its wings fast. Your write up is a good example of it.

  23. I’m now not positive the place you are getting your information, however
    good topic. I must spend a while studying more
    or working out more. Thank you for wonderful info I
    used to be looking for this info for my mission.

  24. Those are yours alright! . We at least need to get these people stealing images to start blogging! They probably just did a image search and grabbed them. They look good though!

  25. I’ve been surfing online greater than 3 hours these days, yet I by no means found any attention-grabbing article like yours. It is lovely worth sufficient for me. Personally, if all webmasters and bloggers made good content material as you probably did, the internet shall be a lot more helpful than ever before.

  26. Attractive section of content. I just stumbled upon your weblog and in accession capital to assert that I get actually enjoyed account your blog posts. Anyway I will be subscribing to your augment and even I achievement you access consistently fast.

  27. Wow! This can be one particular of the most helpful blogs We have ever arrive across on this subject. Basically Fantastic. I am also a specialist in this topic so I can understand your hard work.

  28. Thanks for the sensible critique. Me and my neighbor were just preparing to do some research about this. We got a grab a book from our local library but I think I learned more from this post. I am very glad to see such excellent info being shared freely out there.

  29. This design is wicked! You obviously know how to keep a reader amused. Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Fantastic job. I really loved what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it. Too cool!

  30. Hmm it seems like your site ate my first comment
    (it was extremely long) so I guess I’ll just sum it
    up what I wrote and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog.

    I too am an aspiring blog writer but I’m still new to everything.
    Do you have any tips for first-time blog writers? I’d definitely appreciate it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Trade

From shouts to smiles: How Trump got to yes on NAFTA

Everyone from U.S. President Donald Trump to Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland was smiling Monday as they announced a new NAFTA deal, but it took months of shouting sessions and mutual suspicion to get there.

The two sides clashed on issues as broad as auto-production rules and as tangential as world history.

Negotiations were especially tense at one point last fall when one story after another popped up on Canadian news sites about unusual U.S. proposals. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer scolded his Canadian counterparts over media leaks. The Americans fumed as their proposals went from the negotiating table to the internet and their counterparts whispered in the hallways.

“We could literally see them [leaking],” one American official later observed.

But all those differences were swept aside over the weekend. Sources close to the action say the eleventh-hour deal came together as a result of deadline pressure, willingness to compromise and Trumps constant threat of hitting Canadas extensive auto industry with tariffs if it didnt agree to a new deal.

On Friday, Ottawa celebrated news it would be allowed to keep a coveted dispute-resolution chapter. Trumps son-in-law, Jared Kushner, played a key role to help ease differences over that issue involving Chapter 19. The Canadians then moved forward a proposal to open its dairy markets — which was enough for the U.S. to pull back on plans that were in motion to submit a deal that included just Mexico.

The trade pact announced late Sunday night still faces many hurdles, including congressional approval, before it can go into effect. But for all parties, the real victory was putting aside differences long enough to come up with a compromise.

The issue of looming U.S. tariffs on automobiles was the last detail to be nailed down. In a group chat Sunday evening involving Freeland, Lighthizer, and their officials, Canada was given what amounts to a de facto exemption: No auto tariffs, ever, unless theres an improbable surge in Canadian exports.

The deal was done.

The Canadians insist it wasnt tariff pressure that led to a deal, as claimed by Trump. They said the U.S. was aware long ago of Canadas willingness to make concessions on its tightly controlled dairy market as well as its receptiveness to increasing the amount of online-shopping orders that could be imported duty-free.Read More »

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button