Energy sector could see favor in NAFTA talks: Canada minister

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada’s energy sector could find itself more favored than other industries when it comes time to renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, Canadian Minister of Natural Resources Jim Carr said on Thursday.

Canada's Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr gives a speech at the Mexico Mining Forum in Mexico City, Mexico, February 1, 2017. REUTERS/Henry Romero

Carr is currently on a four-day trip to Mexico to meet his counterparts in the Mexican government and strengthen the two countries’ business ties.

Asked whether the energy industry could get a more favorable role than other parts of the economy in NAFTA renegotiations, Carr said, “I think that’s a real possibility.”

Carr told reporters that Canada will continue to make the case that the integration of the energy sector is in the best interest of all three governments.

“I think the energy sector is one of those where the integration argument and the mutual benefit can be well advanced by Canada,” said Carr.

Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump signed orders to clear the way for TransCanada's TRP.TO Keystone XL oil pipeline to be built, which would ship crude from the Alberta oil sands to the U.S. Gulf.

Carr said that was a case where “what’s good for one country is good for the other.”

The prospect of renegotiating or tearing up NAFTA has raised worries about the Canadian economy, with 75 percent of its exports going to the United States.

On renegotiating NAFTA as a whole, Carr said that until there is more clarity on what the United States plans to bring to the table, Canada will continue to establish relationships both in the United States and Mexico.

Trump reiterated his concerns about the three-country trade deal earlier on Thursday and said he would like to speed up talks to either renegotiate or replace the deal.

Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Sandra Maler