Canada open to renegotiating free trade with Trump

TORONTO (AP) — Canada’s ambassador to Washington said Wednesday that Canada is open to renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement if that’s what President-elect Donald Trump wants.

Ambassador David MacNaughton, on a conference call with journalists, said free trade on lumber, long an irritant, would be one of the first things he’d like to see if there’s a new agreement. He noted that the U.S. is Canada’s largest trading partner and Canada is the largest trading partner for the U.S.

“We’re ready to come to the table,” he said.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau vowed Wednesday to work “very closely” with Trump. The Liberal prime minister offered his congratulations in a statement and said Canada has no closer ally and partner than the United States.

But Trudeau’s openness to trade, refugees and the environment stands in stark contrast to Trump. Of particular concern to Canada is Trump’s vow to renegotiate NAFTA but MacNaughton said any agreement can be improved. Trump has called NAFTA the “worst deal in history.”

MacNaughton said if NAFTA was scrapped, the original Canada-U.S. trade agreement that predated NAFTA would come back into force and he said he doubted the Americans would want to end that.

MacNaughton said Trudeau and Trump are expected to talk soon. He said he’s been reaching out to advisers of Trump including Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions.

Trudeau told students at an event in Ottawa that he sees a message in the election. Trump awakened a movement of angry working-class voters.

“The fact is, we’ve heard clearly from Canadians and from Americans that people want a shared shot at success,” Trudeau said. “We share a purpose, our two countries, where we want to build places where the middle class and those working hard to join it have a chance.”

A positive for Canada could be the eventual approval of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta to the U.S. Gulf Coast. President Obama nixed it but Trump supports the pipeline though he has said he wants a share of the profits.

“TransCanada remains fully committed to building Keystone XL,” TransCanada spokesman Mark Cooper said. “We are evaluating ways to engage the new administration on the benefits, the jobs and the tax revenues this project brings to the table.”

Brad Wall, premier of the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, noted Trump’s support for Keystone XL.

“And with Republican majorities in both the House and Senate, I am hopeful that this important project will move ahead quickly,” Wall said in a statement. “On the other hand, I hope he reconsiders his plan to end the North American Free Trade Agreement.”

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