Obama Heads to Canada Amid Trade Concerns

NAFTA issues likely to loom large over visit
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 19, 2009 6:18 AM CST

(Newser) – Barack Obama makes his first foreign trip as president today to Canada, and his talks there are likely to touch on some thorny trade issues, the New York Times reports. Obama spoke forcefully in favor of reopening NAFTA while a candidate, but intends to focus on strengthening the US-Canada trade relationship in his discussions with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, according to advisers.

"It’s not in anybody’s interest" to see trade between the US and Canada diminish, the president told a Canadian interviewer this week as he promised to abide by NAFTA rules. Despite the potential for disagreements over trade and energy pacts, diplomats in both Washington and Ottawa expect the visit to go smoothly, and predict Obama and Harper will have a better rapport than their predecessors.