Despite U.S. President Donald Trump’s increasingly tough talk on trade, Canada’s ambassador to the United States says he is feeling confident about upcoming talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.

“Notwithstanding the rhetoric and the bluster, we've developed a very good, constructive relationship with the U.S. administration and with Congress,” Ambassador David MacNaughton told BNN in an interview. “I am sure (trade talks) will be difficult, but I am optimistic.”

On Thursday, The Trump administration officially set the clock ticking toward a mid-August start of renegotiations of the nearly 25-year-old trade deal with Canada and Mexico.

Trump has repeatedly described NAFTA as “a disaster” for America. The U.S. is looking to win better terms for U.S. workers and manufacturers. Recently the U.S. Commerce Department imposed tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber exports and is threatening to lash out at Canada’s dairy sector.

Donald Trump's top trade tirades

Donald Trump’s administration has started the clock on talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer sent a letter to the U.S. Congress today notifying lawmakers that the trilateral trade pact with Canada and Mexico will be renegotiated. Donald Trump has changed its stance on many things since becoming president but he has been doggedly consistent about this opposition to NAFTA. BNN takes a look at some of Trump’s arguments against the trade deal.

Canada is eager to update NAFTA to include technology and other economic items that were not around when the agreement was first signed. “It’s obvious this trade agreement needs some updates, in 1994 Amazon was just a river in South America,” said MacNaughton.

Canada is well positioned for the upcoming negotiations but concedes there are interests in the U.S. that are looking at the talks as an opportunity to increase barriers to free trade, said MacNaughton. 

“We need to thin the border rather than thicken it,” he told BNN. “I think we will get there, it’s going to be challenging. There are interests that would like to see things that aren’t so good for Canada and we are going to have to be aggressive and smart and work hard.”