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Canada's infrastructure minister talks NAFTA in Bismarck

Government of Canada

Canada’s minister of infrastructure and communities is he’s hoping negotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement will strengthen what’s already in place.

Amarjeet Sohi was in Bismarck to speak to the local Chamber of Commerce.

"We are hopeful we will be able to negotiate a NAFTA that works for everyone and will continue to enhance our shared prosperity," Sohi said in an interview with Prairie Public.

Sohi said there are a couple of sticking points in the way of an agreement. One is the tariffs the US has imposed on steel and aluminum. The Trump Administration said those tariffs are a matter of "national securuty."

Sohi said the linkage of the tariffs to security is – as he put it – completely inconceivable.

"If the US administration feels Canada can be a threat to US security, that's completely unacceptable," Sohi said. "We have fought wars together. We are dependent upon each other for shared security. WE have a track record that demonstrates when we work together, we are better."

Sohi said there shouldn’t be any link between NAFTA discussions and the tariffs. He also said Canada does not like the proposal where partners can walk away after five years.

"That's not something that gives certainty to businesses," Sohi said. "When businesses are making decisions to invest millions of dollars in Canada, the US or Mexico, they need certainty, they need predictability."