Agriculture could help save NAFTA according to Canadian trade expert

As Canadian, American and Mexican negotiators began the fourth round of talks to revise the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) near Washington D.C. Wednesday, a Canadian trade expert believes agriculture could keep the negotiations from collapsing.

"Agricultural trade pretty much doubled under NAFTA, and there is a large swath of agricultural interests that want to make sure that stays open," said Carlo Dade, director of the trade and investment centre at the Canada West Foundation.

He explained that the American agricultural industry persuaded Donald Trump not to withdraw the U.S. from its five-year-old free trade agreement with South Korea. But if NAFTA is terminated, as Trump has threatened, U.S. access to foreign markets could be further imperilled. 

Should the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) proceed without the U.S. after Trump pulled his country out of the now 11-country agreement, Canada and Mexico, which signed onto the pact, could benefit, according to Dade.

"Withdrawing from the TPP will cost the U.S. billions of dollars, and that's money that's coming to Canada for fruits and vegetables, beef and timber exports," Dade told Xinhua in an interview.

He explained that Mexico is already preparing a back-up plan if NAFTA "goes sideways." The Mexican government is exploring other markets beyond the U.S.

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