WASHINGTON, D.C. Trade negotiations with Canada have been “really, really difficult,” achieving no substantial progress so far, says one of the United States’ top negotiators, offering a new glimpse at NAFTA-related tensions between the two countries.
Gregg Doud, the chief U.S. agriculture negotiator, contrasted the Canadian stance with what he suggested was smooth sailing in talks with Mexico, according to agriculture-media coverage of a speech he made this week in Michigan.
The negotiations with Mexico to update the free trade agreement, which resumed Thursday morning in Washington, are “going as well as we can possibly expect right now,” he was quoted as saying by the Hagstrom Report.
“I think we are going to get there with Mexico in a relatively short order.”
The third NAFTA partner is a different matter, Doud told an American Sugar Alliance event in in Traverse City, Mich.
“Canada, O Canada, is what you want to say,” the trade official said, according to a report by Food Business News and Hagstrom. He said long-standing agriculture issues with the Canadians have still not been resolved, an apparent reference to American objections to Canadian supply-management systems for dairy and poultry.
U.S. negotiators “haven’t had market access conversations with Canada of any substance,” the Hagstrom Report quoted Doud as saying. Talks have been “really, really difficult … We have to go to get to a situation where we can bring Canada on board and wrap this thing up.”
Asked about the reports, the office of U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer raised no objections to their accuracy.