Canada Says Nafta Can't Be `Winner Take All' After Ross Comments

(Bloomberg) -- Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland criticized a one-sided strategy in Nafta negotiations after U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said he wasn’t prepared to make concessions to reach a deal.

“A negotiation where a one party takes a winner-takes-all approach is a negotiation that may find some difficulties in reaching a conclusion,” Freeland said Thursday during a press conference in Toronto, without specifying which party she was referring to. She later added Canada understands the value of opening new export markets in China and elsewhere. “Perhaps now we understand it more urgently than ever.”

Ross, speaking Wednesday to CNBC, said no one should prejudge talks and that he expects there will be a Nafta “proposal” he can eventually take to U.S. President Donald Trump, though said whether Trump accepts it is another matter.

“But we’re trying to do a difficult thing. We’re asking two countries to give up some privileges that they have enjoyed for 22 years, and we’re not in a position to offer anything in return, so that’s a tough sell,” Ross said. “And I don’t know that we’ll get every single thing we want. The question is: will we get enough to make it worthwhile?”

Ildefonso Guajardo, Mexico’s economy minister and lead Nafta negotiator, told reporters on Sunday his country has some margin to compromise with the U.S. on Nafta, without specifying in which areas. The government will be analyzing that issue between now and the next round of talks, scheduled for Mexico City from Nov. 17-21.

The previous round wrapped up this month with ministers trading barbs amid five key impasses on dairy, automotive content, dispute panels, government procurement and a sunset clause. Mexico and Canada are effectively dismissing U.S. proposals on all five.

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