Canada News Agency

U.S. committee chair coming to Ottawa to meet with Freeland, Trudeau on new NAFTA



OTTAWA -- U.S. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal and other congressional representatives are travelling to Ottawa for meetings with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland on Wednesday to discuss the ongoing ratification process of the new NAFTA deal in both countries.
 
Neal’s committee has a subgroup that is responsible for overseeing international trade matters, including the negotiation and implementation of cross-border trade deals.
 
He and other American lawmakers will be meeting with Freeland and will have a “working luncheon,” according to Global Affairs Canada.
 
The discussions happening tomorrow are expected to cover the next steps in making the agreement a reality, after it was reached in late September 2018. So far just Mexico has ratified the agreement, but in order for the deal — which was signed in November after nearly 14 months of negotiations — to come into force, it needs to be ratified by all three countries in their respective legislative bodies.
 
Government officials have told CTV News that Employment, Workforce Development and Labour Minister Patty Hajdu will participate in the meetings. She was in Mexico over the summer where she met with her Mexican counterpart to discuss that country’s labour reforms in relation to the new NAFTA.
 
While U.S. President Donald Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence have been pushing for the trilateral agreement to be ratified, the Democrats lead by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have been working on securing adjustments including on the labour provisions. As of late, and amid impeachment proceedings, Pelosi has indicated optimism about the agreement being passed through Congress. Pence visited Canada in the spring to discuss ratification with Trudeau and other parliamentarians.
 
In Canada the bill to implement the new deal made it through second reading in the House of Commons before dying on the order paper when the 42nd Parliament ended in September upon the election call. Now, the Liberal minority will have to re-introduce the legislation when the new Parliament convenes.
 
Since the deal was reached, the Liberals have said they intend to move in tandem with the Americans on ratification.
 
Heading into the 2019 fall federal election Canada’s ambassador to the United States, David MacNaughton, announced he would be resigning at the end of August to pursue a career in the private sector.
 
Kirsten Hillman was named Canada's acting ambassador to the U.S., but now an official replacement is expected to be named by the Trudeau Liberals in the coming months.