U.S. Ambassador to Canada Kelly Craft spoke at Fortune's Most Powerful Women International Summit on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018.
Rebecca Greenfield for Fortune Most Powerful Women
By Radhika Marya
November 6, 2018

Kelly Craft, the U.S. ambassador to Canada, acknowledges that the relationship between the two countries is strained—but she insists the North American neighbors are committed to cross-border trade.

Craft will embark on a “listening tour” with David MacNaughton, the Canadian ambassador to the U.S., starting in December, to address investor concerns in the wake of the ‘new NAFTA’ agreement, officially called United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement or USMCA.

The diplomats’ joint appearances will seek to reinforce the nations’ commitment to the new USMCA deal—and to each other, Craft said during Fortune’s Most Powerful Women International Summit in Montreal on Tuesday.

“Really what’s important is allowing the medium- and small-sized businesses to know that we’re all about cross-border trade,” she said.

Craft, the first female U.S. ambassador to Canada, also provided insight into the months-long negotiations that resulted in the USMCA agreement, telling the MPW audience that President Donald Trump repeatedly reminded her to keep workers in mind as the talks dragged on.

“Don’t forget the farmers, don’t forget the workers,” she recalled him saying. “He cares about the workers in the United States and North America because obviously USMCA is not about ‘win win win’— it’s about winning for North America. At the end of the day that’s what we all came to the table for.”

Craft expressed admiration for her Canadian counterparts during that period of negotiations, saying she really “grew to respect” Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s minister of foreign affairs, whom she called a “fierce negotiator.”

“This was not a competition,” Craft said. “This was a negotiation and at the end of the day, that’s why we have USMCA.”

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