Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I'll do my three and a half or five minutes in French, and I will, of course, gladly answer questions either in French or in English.
I have little to add to what Mr. Bachand just said. I think he gave a good overview of our relationship with the United States and Mexico, and especially with the United States. He explained our defensive and offensive interests very well. I find it difficult to add anything because he provided a complete overview, in my opinion.
I can however talk to the current dynamic, that is to say about the different nature of negotiations between Canada and Europe, and the renegotiation of NAFTA. I would also like to speak about the provincial participation in that process.
Here is how the negotiations with Europe are very different.
Firstly, when we began to negotiate with Europe eight years ago, there was no agreement, whereas right now we are negotiating with the United States and Mexico on the basis of an almost 25-year-old agreement. The reality is not the same. So long as we have not renewed NAFTA, or so long as it is not repudiated by one of its parties, daily business goes on. It does not mean that some retailers are not anxious, given what they hear, or read on Twitter or elsewhere.
Secondly, in the case of the agreement with Europe, there was absolute determination on the part of both parties to come to an agreement. Both Canada and Europe wanted an agreement, even if things were complex, as shown by the 500 pages of text and the 1,000 pages of exceptions. This was not simple, and that is why the process went on for a certain length of time. On the European side there was a will and a determination to conclude an agreement with Canadians so as to further transatlantic trade. That is not the case with NAFTA.
NAFTA is being reopened in the context of the extremely negative political discourse of the new occupant of the White House regarding that agreement, which he described as the worst possible agreement imaginable.
Despite that, the appointment of Mr. Ross, who is very knowledgeable about U.S. trade policy, as the senior supervisor, and that of Mr. Lighthizer, a well-known, experienced lawyer and trade specialist, could indicate that we will be back in the land of reason.
I want to insist on the fact that any free trade agreement is based on reason, rationality, an understanding of macroeconomics and trade, as well as on a desire for reciprocal enrichment through trade.
How do we get there? There are two relatively easy ways, first through a better understanding of our respective economic systems, since they are slightly different; secondly, we need to agree that we will encourage greater free circulation of goods, persons and capital, with a few exceptions; thirdly, we commit to being disciplined, that is to say to changing the laws, administrative procedures and regulations to facilitate that free circulation of goods, persons and capital. After that, we negotiate the 1,000 pages of exceptions, and that keeps the lawyers busy.