US: Agree or 'Canada will be out'


Canada is now facing pressure from the US to adopt changes to its intellectual property laws or face the prospect of being left out of the new NAFTA.

The Trump administration has turned its attention to Canada after securing a series of concessions from Mexico including a 10-year data protection period for biologic medicines.

The changes to the 24-year old North American Free Trade Agreement are part of the administration's push for reform to a number of its trade agreements.

The outcome on data protection for biologics is considered a major breakthrough for the research-based sector and the Trump administration's trade agenda.

It has now turned its attention north with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, that country's equivalent of the Australian trade minister, meeting with Canadian counterpart Chrystia Freeland in the hope of securing a revised agreement in the next few weeks.

The focus will be on the automotive sector, agriculture and intellectual property protection for pharmaceuticals.

Canada currently maintains an 8-year data protection period for pharmaceuticals with the US pushing for the country to adopt a 10-year period for biologics.

President Trump and his trade advisers have held out the prospect of leaving Canada out of the revised deal and opting for a bilateral agreement with Mexico.

"If we don't make a fair deal for the US after decades of abuse, Canada will be out," said Mr Tump in a tweet over the weekend. 

The administration has given Congress the required 90-day notice period of its intention to enter a new trade deal. 

"The agreement is the most advanced and high-standard trade agreement in the world," said USTR Lighthizer. "Over the next few weeks, Congress and cleared advisors from civil society and the private sector will be able to examine the agreement.  They will find it has huge benefits for our workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses.

“We have also been negotiating with Canada throughout this year-long process. This week those meetings continued at all levels.  The talks were constructive, and we made progress. Our officials are continuing to work toward agreement.  The USTR team will meet with Minister Freeland and her colleagues Wednesday of next week."