Obama & Clinton's NAFTA Threats: A Backward Step for All

    TORONTO and OTTAWA, Feb. 29 /CNW/ - The contentious foreign trade debate
is back in the news this week following threats made by the two Democratic
presidential candidates to withdraw from the North American Free Trade
Agreement (NAFTA). Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama both said they would pull
the USA out of the NAFTA unless the trade deal is renegotiated.
    "Undoing the NAFTA deal now would be a step backwards," says Michael
Woods, a partner with Heenan Blaikie in Ottawa. "There's nothing wrong with
looking at existing deals to see if they're working as intended. In Canada,
we've had election campaigns focused on the issue of free trade and the NAFTA.
But unraveling the NAFTA deal would be a complicated process - there would be
more losers than winners."
    The current debate hinges on labour and environmental issues, and the
NAFTA's enforcement mechanism. Lawyers and trade specialists say these issues
can be solved through sideline agreements aimed at improving the NAFTA rather
than dismantling it.
    "The NAFTA went into effect 14 years ago, so the reality is that the
three NAFTA partners have become much more integrated," says Martha Harrison,
a lawyer with Heenan Blaikie in Toronto. "Plus, we now face other trade blocks
on the world stage. Scrapping the NAFTA deal now to go it alone in the global
markets would be a mistake. All of the North American economies would suffer."

    Heenan Blaikie is one of Canada's top national law firms. It delivers
strategic legal advice and innovative business solutions under six broad
sectors: business law, tax, labour and employment, litigation, intellectual
property, and entertainment. Founded in 1973, the firm is now more than 440
lawyers strong and still growing. Heenan Blaikie has nine offices in Ontario,
British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec.

For further information:

For further information: Karyn McLean, Director, Marketing and
Communications, Heenan Blaikie, T (416) 643-6863, F (416) 360-8425,

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