Sep 22, 2017

By Michael Kramer

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Former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney says – it’s worth saving a key dispute settlement mechanism in NAFTA – that the United States wants eliminated.

After a meeting with Canada’s foreign minister in Toronto today Mulroney said that the private-arbitration panel system – which is used to settle trade disagreements between the three countries – is a valuable instrument.

Mulroney and his team negotiated the original North American Free Trade Agreement – and they fought to include this dispute-settlement mechanism in the original Canada-U.S. bilateral trade deal – called Chapter 19.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland held a two-hour meeting with Mulroney and other members of the first NAFTA negotiation team.

The coming together of the old guard and the new comes as Canada, the U.S. and Mexico head into the third round of NAFTA negotiations in Ottawa on Saturday –  the first set of talks to be held north of the border.

Washington critics are against Chapter 19 – but Canada has used it successfully in cases such as the fight over softwood lumber.

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