×

NAFTA is 'something to be improved upon,' says Canada's finance minister

  • Negotiations over the 24-year-old trade deal were initially prompted by aggressive criticism from President Donald Trump
  • Asked if he feels threatened by a possibility of a U.S. walkout and whether he was planning scenarios for the end of NAFTA, Morneau was confident
(L-R) Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, U.S. Trade Rep Robert Lighthizer and Mexican Secretary of Economy Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal make statements to the media after a NAFTA trilateral ministerial press event in Washington, October 17, 2017.
Yuri Gripas | Reuters
(L-R) Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, U.S. Trade Rep Robert Lighthizer and Mexican Secretary of Economy Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal make statements to the media after a NAFTA trilateral ministerial press event in Washington, October 17, 2017.

The North American Free Trade Agreement is "something to be improved upon," Canada's finance minister told CNBC Tuesday as the sixth round of NAFTA talks get underway in Montreal.

"Our goal is to make real progress. We've got some constructive ideas. And we're really focused on how we can improve NAFTA," Finance Minister Bill Morneau said, speaking during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Negotiations over the 24-year-old trade deal were initially prompted by aggressive criticism from President Donald Trump, who has threatened to walk away from the agreement if he doesn't achieve a "better deal" for the United States.

Asked if he feels threatened by a possibility of a U.S. walkout and whether he was planning scenarios for the end of NAFTA, Morneau was confident. "I think plan A is the right way to be thinking and the most likely conclusion," he said.

"NAFTA has been enormously positive for all three countries that have been party to the deal," the minister went on. "Canada-U.S. trade has grown hugely over the time of NAFTA. Now it's almost $2 billion every single day, so we have a very strong trading relationship — 9 million U.S. jobs rely on trade with Canada, so we see it as something to be improved upon, and that's why we're working constructively towards that end."

Canada's growth forecast was upgraded by the International Monetary Fund on Monday, who projected GDP growth of 2.3 percent in 2018, up from an October estimate of 2.1 percent.