By Barry Ellsworth
The sixth round of contentious North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) renegotiations resumed Tuesday in Montreal as hundreds of Canadian unionized workers marched through the city to demand improvements in the trade deal.
The marchers -- mostly members of Unifor, Canada’s largest private sector union, with a membership of more than 300,000 -- want a new agreement to better protect Canadian jobs.
U.S. President Donald Trump has expressed a similar American point of view, threatening to pull his country out of the deal if American jobs and interests are not better represented in a new NAFTA. But the Canadian union believes the negotiations represent a chance to improve the deal for them.
“It is good news that we have a chance to renegotiate NAFTA,” Hughes Perreault, a Unifor official, told Canadian media.
Canada and Mexico believe U.S. demands in previous negotiations are unacceptable and there is a very real possibility that Trump could signal the end of NAFTA. Of particular concern is the demand for more U.S.-made parts in automobiles.
“We’re reaching the danger zone right now,” said Stephen Moore, a former economic advisor to Trump.
“This is a pretty important meeting because if there’s still no progress, the White House could become very frustrated and just throw up their hands and say, ‘We’re pulling out.’”
The 24-year-old agreement is the key to more than US$1 trillion trade among the signatories – Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.