Canada's Freeland on NAFTA: 'It's easy to take us for granted'

Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs:
Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs: “it’s easy to take us for granted”

Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs jokes that before she even says hello to Americans, she reminds them that Canada is the largest market for American-made goods.

“Canada is kind of like the girl next door. It’s easy to take us for granted,” Chrystia Freeland told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria on Sunday’s “GPS.”

Freeland is Canada’s chief negotiator in the high-stakes talks to renegotiate NAFTA, the free trade pact between the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly threatened to tear up the agreement, calling it the “worst trade deal” ever signed. He has blamed the pact for benefiting Mexico and Canada at the expense of American jobs and has vowed to eliminate the trade deficit with Mexico.

Related: If Trump kills NAFTA, farmers, bars and factories lose jobs

Freeland wants to remind Americans that when it comes to trading goods with Canada, it’s the U.S. that has the deficit — $ 12.1 billion for 2016, to be exact. (Note: if you look at both goods and services, the U.S. had a $ 12.5 billion trade surplus last year.)

But Canada doesn’t take that as a sign that there’s something wrong with the countries’ partnership.

“It is certainly the case that this U.S. administration has a strong view about trade deficits as a sign that a trading relationship is fundamentally not working,” she said. “Canada doesn’t necessarily take that view.”

Negotiations to revamp NAFTA were extended into 2018 after talks hit roadblocks on several key issues, including an American proposal to rewrite how companies resolve disputes. Canada and Mexico both reject the Trump administration’s suggestion that NAFTA should include a sunset clause that would force all three countries to renew the agreement in five years.

Related: Trump’s NAFTA agenda has ‘poison pill proposals,’ says U.S. Chamber of Commerce

As the fourth round of negotiations wound down last week, U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer publicly complained about the “resistance” of his counterparts to accept some of the U.S. proposals to amend the 1994 trade agreement.

Freeland and Mexico Economy Secretary Ildefonso Guajardo have said they are willing to modernize the agreement but will not agree to any clauses that will hurt their respective countries or collaboration among the three nations.

About 14 million American jobs depend on trade with Mexico and Canada, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a business organization that opposes Trump’s trade agenda.

The next round of talks will be in Mexico City starting November 17.

–CNNMoney’s Patrick Gillespie contributed to this report.

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