LIMA, Peru — Two of the three political leaders with probably the most at stake on the NAFTA desk huddled Friday behind closed doorways, their most senior commerce lieutenants alongside, in hopes of unlocking a mutually useful resolution to the cross-border conundrum posed by U.S. President Donald Trump.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto gathered on the sidelines of a serious worldwide summit in Peru’s capital, together with International Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and Mexican Financial system Secretary Ildefonso Guajardo.
U.S. Commerce Consultant Robert Lighthizer pulled out of the summit on the final minute, sending his deputy, C. J. Mahoney, in his place.
The sit-down, the primary face-to-face between the 2 leaders since November, comes at a crucial time, with Canada, Mexico and the U.S. all on the lookout for a breakthrough within the ongoing effort to replace the North American Free Commerce Settlement — and Trump’s wild-card commerce methods doing little to clear the air.
It was additionally an opportunity for Trudeau to take inventory of Mexico’s place — and maybe share methods — earlier than the prime minister heads into a gathering Saturday with U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence.
Pence is in Peru as an alternative of Trump, who was initially scheduled to attend however determined towards it on the final minute, ostensibly to take care of the American response to a chemical assault in Syria.
Freeland described the dialog between Trudeau and Pena Nieto as “a very good one,” at the same time as she expressed optimism concerning the state of NAFTA negotiations, that are persevering with in Washington this weekend.
“Canada and Mexico discovered that we’re very a lot on the identical web page in believing that now’s the second to very, very intensely interact and to actually enter a brand new stage, a brand new rhythm, a brand new stage of negotiations,” she instructed reporters after the sitdown.
The assembly between the Canadian and Mexican leaders got here sooner or later after U.S. officers indicated they have been prepared to melt their calls for on autos, which Trump adopted by warning that he was prepared to renegotiate “ceaselessly.”
Freeland refused to invest on these apparently competing messages, at the same time as she stated all commerce negotiations are topic to “moments of drama.”
“There definitely have been moments of drama previously,” she stated of the NAFTA talks. “And I’ll make a prediction â¦ there are extra dramatic moments (coming) within the days to come back. And we shouldn’t be distracted by these.”
Trudeau’s conferences with Pena Nieto and Pence come because the three are attending the Summit of the Americas, which is held each 4 years and brings collectively leaders from throughout the Western Hemisphere.
The prime minister began his day Friday by assembly Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra, who served as Peru’s ambassador to Canada earlier than the earlier president was pressured to resign over a scandal final month.
Trudeau delivered a 10-minute handle to enterprise leaders from throughout the Americas encouraging them to spend money on Canada, noting that the nation has free commerce agreements with dozens of nations world wide.
At the same time as his authorities struggles to take care of a pipeline disaster at house, one which has pressured him to return to Canada on Sunday earlier than resuming his travels to Europe, Trudeau pitched his nation as an incredible place to speculate, telling a whole lot of enterprise leaders “that huge issues can get finished in Canada.”
Greater than half the nations with which Canada has free commerce agreements are within the Americas, Trudeau stated, and the hope is so as to add a take care of Latin America’s largest buying and selling bloc, Mercosur, to that tally.
“Even on this age the place the worth of commerce is being questioned by some, now we have efficiently negotiated landmark agreements with Europe and with Asia,” Trudeau added – a not-so refined dig at protectionists like Trump.
The prime minister went on to emphasise Canada’s expert labour power, low unemployment and debt-to-GDP ratio, current federal investments in infrastructure and a brand new funding company as proof that Canada is open for enterprise.
The message appeared properly acquired, and Kenneth Frankel, president of the Canadian Council for the Americas, stated the area provides a pure alternative for Canada – significantly because it seems for a northern companion who isn’t Trump.
But Siegfried Kiefer, president of Calgary-based engineering agency Atco Ltd., stated Latin American leaders have instructed him they want huge new investments in infrastructure to develop their economies first.
On that entrance, Canada’s personal document on infrastructure and “national-interest initiatives” has room for enchancment, Kiefer stated, together with Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline, which is on the centre of a fierce battle between the Alberta and B.C. governments.
“The enterprise group is usually on the lookout for proof within the pudding,” he stated.
“The general public unrest relative to a few of these initiatives is basically what you’re making an attempt to take care of. And that in my thoughts offers with how do you achieve the belief of the folks of the nation that you’ve got seemed on the deserves of the venture objectively.”
Trudeau’s day additionally included internet hosting a lunch with representatives from the 15-country Caribbean Neighborhood, the place he introduced $25 million in new funding to assist the area take care of pure disasters equivalent to hurricanes.
The prime minister additionally met with Chilean President Sebastien Pinera, who took workplace in March and whose nation is a vital political and commerce companion with Canada.
– Comply with @leeberthiaume on Twitter