Multinational trade negotiations are often accused being a closed door mess with a never ending series of mistakes, but Canadian negotiating strategies on NAFTA have been very successful.
Successful is a subjective word and this site aims to keep to the facts and avoid too much opinion, so let’s define success. In the context NAFTA negotiations, success is defined as a trade agreement that is as favorable to your country as possible, with least amount of drama.
Canada, so far, has been “walking softly and carrying a big stick” with the following successful tactics:
1. Starting Negotiations With Demands: Canada laid out its criteria early in the process. This instantly gave the Canadian negotiators important bargaining chips to potentially throw in at the end to close a deal. Things like the dispute mechanisms and protecting the Dairy industry make great domestic politics, which bolsters your position with the other side, but are “nice to haves” and not truly critical to the success of a final deal.
2. Quietly Racking Up Negotiating Chips: In Canada’s case starting superficially unrelated proceedings, like attacking Boeing’s now demonstrably malicious claim against Bombardier, and starting a WTO claim against the US’ unfair trade practices, gives Canadian negotiators more “chips” to bargain with. Massive deals like NAFTA often include side arrangements to terminate other proceedings.