US, Canada business groups call for three-country NAFTA deal

US, Canada business groups call for three-country NAFTA deal
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U.S. and Canadian business groups are teaming up to urge trade officials to include all three nations in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Canadian officials are in Washington this week with hopes of striking a final updated deal by Friday, even as prickly issues remain, after the United States and Mexico settled their differences last week.

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The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) said that trade between the U.S. and Canada is vital to jobs and the economies of both countries. 

"There is an unprecedented volume of goods flowing between the three countries and significant integration of operations, which makes a trilateral agreement an imperative," said NAM's President and CEO Jay Timmons and CME's President and CEO Dennis Darby in a joint statement.

"Because of our two countries’ nearly $700 billion trading relationship, our economies are inextricably linked, and our manufacturing workers depend on a strong deal that keeps us all growing and prospering for generations to come," Timmons and Darby said.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland met several times on Thursday with U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerMcConnell urges GOP senators to call Trump about tariffs Companies brace for trade war MORE, with the pair working to sign off on key aspects of an updated NAFTA deal.

Business Roundtable (BRT) and the Business Council of Canada (BCC) called on the governments to "build upon the many benefits of NAFTA with a commitment to preserving the agreement’s trilateral structure."

"Forfeiting this three-nation partnership would destabilize North American supply chains, jeopardize jobs and undermine economic growth," the groups said in a statement.

All the groups argued that maintaining the trilateral structure of the 24-year-old deal is "paramount to combatting discriminatory trade practices by competitors such as China."

"Our goal is to expand trade in order to promote greater economic prosperity that benefits all of our citizens. A strong, trilateral partnership among the U.S., Canada and Mexico is a cornerstone of that prosperity," BRT and BCC said.