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Meet the Poker-Faced Top Trade Mind Expected to Lead Canada’s NAFTA Negotiating Team


(Samantha Wright Allen – Hill Times)

There’s a long-standing joke among those who know Steve Verheul: you don’t want to play poker with the guy. At the table, no matter the subject, Canada’s former-CETA-now-expected-NAFTA chief negotiator doesn’t have a “tell.”

“It’s the same reaction, whether it’s good, bad, or different, which makes being a negotiator against him or with him tricky,” said David Plunkett, who worked as Canada’s ambassador to the European Union while the Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement was being negotiated. “You don’t know what you’re up against in many ways.”

Of course, that’s the main job of any chief negotiator; but the way many tell it, Mr. Verheul is especially gifted. A bureaucrat who is respected by politicians across party lines and among academics and industry representatives, he is set to defend Canada’s interests during North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations in the face of a protectionist United States president, Donald Trump, who has already hinted issues like supply management will become battlegrounds. Click here to read more.

Related: Mexico Says NAFTA Rules of Origin May Be Toothless (Associated Press)