SASKATOON — Former prime minister Jean Chretien says Canada’s in a better position now to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement than it was when the treaty took effect 23 years ago.
He says back in 1994, Canada had a surplus of $50 billion a year in trade.
Now, the United States sells as much to Canada as Canada sells to the U.S., so even though some sectors will win and others will lose, he says both sides will benefit in the end.
Chretien says Americans have always been difficult to negotiate with for softwood lumber and dairy.
He also says it’s not uncommon in such negotiations for agreements to be signed on the last day.
The third round of talks between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico concluded on Wednesday.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said some issues related to small- and medium-size enterprises were resolved, but an enormous amount of work still needs to be done on other, difficult matters.
Chretien was in Saskatoon on Wednesday speaking to students at the University of Saskatchewan.
He is the first of three former prime ministers to speak at the university as part of Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations — the other will be Kim Campbell and Paul Martin.