Canada Can Handle Trade Turmoil Says Finance Minister Bill Morneau

As he continues to stump across the country in support of the federal budget, Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau said that Canada is well-positioned to handle the current turmoil around trade with the United States and renegotiate the best possible deal on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Minister Morneau said Wednesday that talks on a new NAFTA deal with the U.S. and Mexico are "critically important" and that Canada will remain firm in getting the best possible agreement.

"Are there challenges? Yes. Do we need to be prepared to deal with them? Yes. We think that having our economy in the best possible position is the place from which we can do that, make decisions in a measured way, considering all the facts at hand," he said as he meets with business leaders in Western Canada after last week’s federal budget was announced.

The federal government's latest budget includes measures to expand trade around the world, particularly in Asia, and the financial plan is fiscally responsible, which means Canada can hold out for a better deal on NAFTA, said the Finance Minister.

"We are going to continue to put forth why we don't agree with some ideas that were put forth on the table by the United States. We've been pretty firm in that approach. We think that Canadians support us, that getting to a better deal is the way we should address this," he said.

In addition to renegotiating NAFTA, the U.S. government has also announced steep new import duties on steel and aluminum with Canada the largest supplier of both commodities. However, there are indications that Canada will be excluded from the new U.S. import duties.