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By Yali N'Diaye
     WASHINGTON (MNI) - After Mexico and the U.S., Canada Foreign Affairs
Minister Chrystia Freeland offered clearer guidance Monday as to Canada's
objectives ahead of NAFTA's negotiations aiming at modernizing the 23-year old
     Through a list of six key objectives, Freeland aims at making NAFTA "more
progressive" through stronger labor and environmental provisions, while also
cutting red tape for people and businesses and liberalizing government
     Canada will also seek the creation of a chapter on gender rights and one on
Indegenous people.
     Freelance also wants to preserve some elements such as Canada's system of
supply management.
     Canada will also seek to draw on some of the outcomes of the Comprehensive
Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) reached with Europe, which Freeland
qualified as the "most progressive trade deal in history."
     Overall, she said, free trade without equitable domestic policy won't work.
     A red line for Canada is the need to maintain a dispute settlement system
that has often settled in favor of Canada.
     "Just as good fences make good neighbors, strong dispute settlement systems
make good trading partners," Freeland said, adding her negotiating team will be
as "resolute" as a previous team had been in 1987 by walking out when the U.S.
refused to "agree to binding binational review of anti-dumping and
countervailing duties."
     While Freeland said she was "deeply optimistic" about the outcome of the
negotiations, there will be unsettling times during the process.
     Reacting to the speech, TD Senior Economist Brian DePratto said in a
commentary that "Canada will have to overcome the U.S. desire for asymmetric
government procurement provisions, and Canada's supply management system was
both targeted in the U.S. objectives and a target of President Trump's ire
earlier in the year."
     "That said, CETA provides a good starting point on both these issues, and
included some concessions from Canada related to supply managed industries," he
     The negotiations will start on Wednesday in Washington, DC.
--MNI Ottawa Bureau; +1 613 869-0916; email:
[TOPICS: M$C$$$,MI$$$$]