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Trump advisor reassures Canada not to fear US trade intentions

Tuesday, January 24, 2017 - 06:45

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet began a three-day retreat in Calgary on Monday hearing from a Donald Trump senior economic advisor who urged Canada not to fear US trade intentions.

[OTTAWA] Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet began a three-day retreat in Calgary on Monday hearing from a Donald Trump senior economic advisor who urged Canada not to fear US trade intentions.

At the retreat to map out Ottawa's demands in a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Trump advisor Stephen Schwarzman said Canadians should not be "enormously worried" about the protectionist rhetoric coming out of the White House.

US President Donald Trump campaigned on securing a new trade deal with Canada and Mexico or, failing that, ripping up the 1994 trilateral trade pact.

But Mr Schwarzman, who is also head of the investment firm Blackstone, said this and other proposed measures, such as a possible US border tax, are not aimed at Canada.

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Mr Trump has assailed China and Mexico on trade.

"Canada has been a great partner for the US for as long as anybody can remember," Mr Schwarzman said.

"There may be some modifications, but basically, things should go well for Canada... It's a model for how trade relations should be, it's a positive sum game. Canada is well-positioned."

On Tuesday, the US president's son-in-law Jared Kushner was reportedly expected to travel to Calgary to also speak with Mr Trudeau and his team.

But a Canadian government official said the trip had yet to be confirmed.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters that Mr Trump would meet with his Canadian and Mexican counterparts in the next month.

"He's already spoken to both the president of Mexico and prime minister of Canada about his desire to renegotiate, and I think as he meets with both of these individuals over the next 30 days or so, that's going to be a topic," Mr Spicer said.

"Now, if they come in and express a willingness to do that, you could negotiate it within the current parameters and update it through the existing structure," he said.

"If they don't, and he decides to pull out, we would have to go back to the drawing table in the future."

AFP

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