Ottawa – Canada is expected to announce Friday the start of formal free trade negotiations with the four-country South American trade bloc known as Mercosur.
A spokesman for International Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne says the negotiations could begin in earnest in the next 10 days.
That announcement will come after Champagne formally signs the reconstituted and much larger Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement later today in Santiago, Chile.
Champagne’s spokesman Joseph Pickerill says the progress on both deals is a positive sign that Canada’s efforts have paid off to diversify its international trade portfolio in the face of growing uncertainty with its top trading partner, the United States.
This week’s inroads into the Pacific Rim and South America come as U.S. President Donald Trump threatens to levy stiff tariffs on steel and aluminum, and with persistent uncertainty continuing to plague the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Canada was able to win exemptions on digital content in the renegotiated TPP, but the government has faced heavy criticism from Canadian auto workers and manufacturers for signing side deals with Japan, Australia and Malaysia on automobiles.
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