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NAFTA Round Three: Canadians prioritize labour standards, Chapter 19  

As Canada’s negotiating team prepares for a third round of meetings with Mexico and the United States this weekend in Ottawa, Canadians are weighing in on what they want to see their negotiating team focus on – and fight hardest for – in an updated North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

And while talks thus far have been more stalemate than checkmate, this latest survey from the Angus Reid Institute finds Canadians’ top priorities to be ensuring labour standards are equal across all three countries, and securing so-called ‘Chapter-19’ provisions – that anti-dumping and countervailing duties are only applied on Canadian assets when warranted.

Where many find less value is in the push for the inclusion of two new chapters in NAFTA – one on gender equality and the other on Indigenous rights. Both options receive relatively muted support, and the most criticism from those Canadians who say the government has chosen the wrong priorities.

This two-country poll also finds – perhaps unsurprisingly – those in the U.S. vastly underestimate the important trading relationship most of the 50 states hold with Canada. While 35 states trade more with this country than any other, few south of the 49th parallel demonstrate knowledge of this fact. Once made aware of this association, Americans appear more likely to say their country would be hurt if NAFTA ended.

Canadians, on the other hand, express no shortage of worry about the same: six-in-ten fear their country will be harmed if a deal cannot be agreed upon. This, amid escalating tensions and fresh threats of withdrawal from US President Donald Trump.

More Key Findings:

  • Half of Canadians (47 per cent) say that over the past two decades Canada has seen an overall benefit due to its participation in NAFTA. Just one-in-five (21 per cent) Americans feel the same way about their country
  • While more than half of respondents in each country say their team will get some of what it wants out of a new NAFTA, Americans are three times as likely to say their country will get most or all of what it wants
  • Asked to choose between maintaining Canada’s high tariff on dairy, poultry, and eggs or getting a better deal on softwood lumber, Canadians narrowly prefer the latter (45 per cent versus 55 per cent, respectively)

Link to the poll here:

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