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The continuing renegotiation of NAFTA by the United States, Canada and Mexico eventually will end well because "everyone has a lot to gain" by strengthening and protecting the trade agreement, Canada's deputy ambassador to the United States said Monday.

"No relationship on this planet is more economically important" than the trade transactions that occur between Canada and the United States every day, Kirsten Hillman said during an interview in Lincoln.

Two-way trade between Nebraska and Canada reached $2.4 billion in 2015, she said in celebrating what her nation is promoting as the Canada-Nebraska Partnership, a trade relationship that is particularly tied to Nebraska's agricultural products.

Hillman, who was Canada's chief negotiator for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, will speak at the Yeutter Institute Symposium on International Trade on Tuesday.

President Donald Trump has insisted on renegotiation of the NAFTA pact, claiming it has worked to the disadvantage of U.S. economic interests.

Updating the trade agreement provides an opportunity to "make sure it makes sense in today's economy," Hillman said.

"There is a recognition that the promise of international trade hasn't been fulfilled for everybody in the same way," she said, but some of that is because of the mechanization and globalization of the economy since NAFTA was created 25 years ago.

Renegotiation provides "a huge opportunity (to) make sure it makes sense in today's economy," Hillman said.

"There's lots of positive momentum" in the current talks, she said, and reason to believe that "all three countries will be satisfied" by the end results.

Hillman said she's looking for a "win, win and win outcome (for all three countries) at the end of the tunnel."

Among officials joining Hillman in Lincoln was Paul Connors, consulate general of Canada who is stationed in Minneapolis.

The Canadians came armed with a packet of material pointing to the importance of the NAFTA trade relationship for Nebraska.

Canada and Mexico are the two largest importers of Nebraska's agricultural products. Agricultural exports to Canada from Nebraska totaled $301 million in 2016.  

More than 57,000 jobs in Nebraska are tied to trade and investment with Canada.

The NAFTA renegotiations are a reminder that "this is a relationship that we should not be taking for granted," Hillman said.

"There's a lot of incentive for everyone to succeed," she said. 

Reach the writer at 402-473-7248 or

On Twitter @LJSDon.


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