OTTAWA: Canada is bracing for a possible US withdrawal from the tripartite North American Free Trade Agreement, a source said today, ahead of the next round of negotiations due to start in Montreal later this month.
"The Canadian government is aware of the possibility that President Trump may announce the United States's withdrawal from NAFTA," a senior government official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
"We're prepared for that possibility." In the meantime, the official said, the government is moving ahead with plans to host US and Mexican trade negotiators in Montreal January 23-28.
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland was in Washington to meet with senior US lawmakers and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross on Tuesday. Her office was not immediately available for comment.
Reports of NAFTA's possible demise, meanwhile, sent the Canadian and Mexican currencies tumbling, and the US dollar rising from Can$1.2432 at 1200 GMT to Can$1.2554 at around 2030 GMT.
In keeping with his campaign promise, Trump forced Canada and Mexico to sit down and renegotiate the 1994 trade pact, and said if a deal could not be reached he would withdraw the United States from NAFTA.
Since coming to office, the Trump administration has taken an increasingly protectionist stance in dealings with Canada and Mexico, for example, applying anti-dumping duties on imports of Canadian aircraft, softwood lumber and most recently newsprint.