Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

EYE ON AFRICA

Cameroon's Constitutional Court rejects last petition for re-run

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Music stars, French art and a dead cat's renaissance

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Khashoggi Affair: Evidence mounts against Saudi Crown Prince

Read more

#TECH 24

Next stop space: Japanese company constructing nanotube 'space lift'

Read more

#THE 51%

The Gender Divide: Record number of women running in U.S. midterms

Read more

REPORTERS

Reporters: Brexit, a sea of uncertainty for fishermen

Read more

YOU ARE HERE

Fishing in France's Grau du Roi harbour, a family tradition

Read more

FOCUS

French education reforms under tight scrutiny

Read more

ENCORE!

FIAC 2018: Paris's one-stop shop for Contemporary Art collectors

Read more

Still hope for NAFTA deal, but Canada must quickly diversify markets: trade minister

© POOL/AFP/File | Canada's International Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne is still hopeful about NAFTA but knows exports must be diversified

MONTREAL (AFP) - 

Canada's trade minister held out hope Wednesday for a new continental trade deal, but with no clear timeline for reaching an accord expressed also a renewed sense of urgency to diversify export markets.

"We must continue to negotiate with our American partners because the US is Canada's largest economic partner," Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne told reporters.

He added that there was "no deadline" for wrapping up negotiations despite calls to conclude a deal before a July 1 Mexican presidential election and US midterm elections in November.

"But at the same time, we must also diversify our markets," he continued, recalling that his government is "working expeditiously" and "as quickly as possible" to ratify the Trans-Pacific Free Trade (TPP) with 10 other countries.

Canada currently sends about 75 percent of its exports to the United States.

Signed in March without the United States, the TPP would enter into force 60 days after its ratification by at least six of the 11 signatory countries (Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam).

The Canadian parliament will be presented a ratification bill on Thursday, but it seems unlikely to be passed before parliament breaks for the summer on June 22.

"We want to be part of the first group of countries which have ratified the TPP because we think it is important to have first-mover advantage for our companies," Champagne said.

In the meantime, talks started last August to revamp the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) have bogged down amid efforts to satisfy US President Donald Trump's demands for better terms, including a larger share of US-made components in North American autos and a sunset clause.

No new rounds of NAFTA talks are scheduled but senior officials from all three nations remain in contact.

"We will always be at the negotiating table to promote a modern partnership, a partnership that will create jobs on both sides of the border," Champagne said on the sidelines of the International Economic Forum of the Americas in Montreal.

© 2018 AFP