Carr, Lighthizer take a pass on G20 trade ministers meeting in Argentina


OTTAWA — Canada’s new international trade minister is taking a pass on a meeting with his G20 counterparts in Argentina on Friday.

Jim Carr was shuffled into the trade portfolio with the main purpose of diversifying Canada’s economic relations with countries other than the United States, its largest trading partner.

The G20 also includes China, India and Brazil — countries that Canada is keen to expand economic ties with.

Carr’s spokesman says the minister will be attending an event in his home province of Manitoba on Friday, and that Canada will be represented at the G20 meeting by the Canada’s deputy minister for international trade.

Robert Lighthizer, the U.S. Trade Representative, will also be replaced by a deputy at the gathering of G20 trade ministers, fuelling speculation he might be holding his schedule open for a meeting with Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, his political counterpart in the ongoing renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Canadian and American negotiators were continuing their talks today after Freeland’s latest visit to Washington on Tuesday.

Freeland briefed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the state of the NAFTA talks at the Liberal caucus retreat in Saskatoon on Wednesday.

Afterwards, she said lead negotiator Steve Verheul and David MacNaughton, Canada’s ambassador to the United States, would return to Washington to resume negotiations today.

The G20 leaders’ summit is set for later this fall in Buenos Aires.

The Canadian Press