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U.S., Canada in Accord on Comprehensive Trade Pact

December 08, 1987|From Times Wire Services

OTTAWA — Canada and the United States early Monday finally resolved their differences over a comprehensive free-trade treaty due to take effect Jan. 1, 1989.

The pact was initialed Oct. 4 in Washington after 16 months of negotiations, but both sides sought modifications in the legal text before the 1,000-page document is signed by President Reagan and Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.

"You'll be pleased to know we reached agreement," Simon Reisman, Canada's chief negotiator, told reporters, who were surrounded by weary officials from both countries.

Weeks of haggling resulted in deadlock until the talks were moved to a higher level last week with the participation of Mulroney's chief of staff, Derek Burney, and U.S. deputy commerce and Treasury secretaries.

The officials spent more than 30 hours together here during the weekend and finally emerged early Monday to announce agreement.

"What remains to be done is to do the usual routine proofreading and checking, and we plan to initial the agreement within the next 48 hours," Reisman said.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. said a section on maritime shipping was dropped because of opposition from the U.S. industry, and slight changes were made to the dispute-settlement mechanism.

Called 'Good Agreement'

However, neither side would officially disclose the details or say whether the final text included any significant amendments to the tentative pact, which was initialed by the two heads of government after more than a year of bargaining.

"We see this as being a good agreement for Canada and for the United States," Peter McPherson, deputy U.S. Treasury secretary, said.

Reagan must submit the agreement to Congress in early January in order to take advantage of a speedy ratification process that does not allow amendments to the deal in the United States.

The President has spoken out frequently in favor of the agreement--which will eliminate tariffs and dismantle other trade barriers over a 10-year period--and U.S. officials believe that the deal will get congressional approval.

But both Canadian opposition parties, the Liberals and New Democrats, strongly oppose the treaty, as do three of the 10 Canadian provinces that would have to implement it.

They accuse Mulroney, a Progressive Conservative, of giving away Canada's sovereignty in a shortsighted bid to evade U.S. protectionism.

"I have nothing against the American dream, but it's not the dream of most Canadians," said Liberal leader John Turner.

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