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McCain: Desire to renegotiate NAFTA would jeopardize Canadian military support

McCain: Desire to renegotiate NAFTA would jeopardize Canadian military support

Republican John McCain said Friday that proposals by Democratic presidential rivals Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement would jeopardize crucial military support from Canada.
McCain emphasized his support for NAFTA during a town-hall style meeting at Dell Inc. headquarters in Round Rock, Texas.
The effects of the 1994 trade pact are still hotly debated, but studies indicate the deal has resulted in record exports from Texas to Canada and Mexico.
Trade and national security are "interconnected with each other," the Arizona senator said.
"One of our greatest assets in Afghanistan are our Canadian friends. We need our Canadian friends, and we need their continued support in Afghanistan," McCain said. "So what do we do? The two Democratic candidates for president say they're going to unilaterally abrogate NAFTA.
"How do you think the Canadian people are going to react to that?" McCain said.
Canada has 2,500 troops serving in Afghanistan along with 29,000 U.S. soldiers.
In fact, Clinton and Obama did not say they would abrogate the agreement; the word "abrogate" means to abolish or repeal.
Rather, both Democrats said at a debate Tuesday in Cleveland that they would insist on renegotiating NAFTA, and would threaten to opt out of the agreement unless Canada and Mexico come to the negotiating table.
"I will say we will opt out of NAFTA unless we renegotiate it, and we renegotiate on terms that are favorable to all of America," Clinton said.
Obama agreed: "I will make sure that we renegotiate ... I think we should use the hammer of a potential opt-out as leverage to ensure that we actually get labor and environmental standards that are enforced."
McCain, speaking to reporters later Friday, allowed, "maybe they're not saying 'abrogate.'"
"They're saying 'radically restructure,'" he said. "I think Canada would view that as a betrayal of the long years of negotiations that we agreed to."
Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper warned the U.S. on Thursday against reopening NAFTA talks, saying such a move would give Canada a chance also to renegotiate a more favorable deal.
"If any American government chose to make the mistake of reopening that, we would have some things we would want to talk about as well," Harper told legislators, but he also said he doubted an American president would reopen the deal.
Trade Minister David Emerson this week said NAFTA gave the U.S. a good deal in terms of access to Canada's oil, and noted that Canada is the largest energy supplier to the U.S.
Emerson did not say Canada would insist on putting the oil issue back on the table, but Canadian critics have been concerned about a provision that prevents Canada from claiming preferential treatment in an energy crisis.
Canada's western province of Alberta is home to vast oil sands reserves, a tar-like bitumen that is extracted using mining techniques. Industry officials estimate the region holds as much as 175 billion barrels of recoverable oil, making Canada second only to Saudi Arabia in crude oil reserves.


Updated : 2021-07-27 05:01 GMT+08:00