In a speech on Friday in front of dozens of state governors, as well as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Freeland, Pence promised a collaborative approach.
Dannel Malloy, chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, says the mood was "tense" and "there are a lot of Republican governors who apparently have a neck problem, because they were all looking down".
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau countered the Trump Administration's position on the North American Free Trade Agreement during a speech at the National Governors Association.
Trump feels the two allies and neighbors are taking advantage of lax American trade policies.
On Monday, 30 days before formal talks begin, United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer's office is expected to publish his negotiating objectives, outlining the Trump administration's path going forward.
Although Trudeau said last month he had pressed Trump to exclude Canada, his remarks on Friday were the first to reveal the president's response.More news: Winter is always coming for economy on 'Game of Thrones'
"Such policies kill growth". "And that hurts the very workers these measures are nominally meant to protect".
"If anything, we would like a thinner border, not a thicker one", he pointed out. "Once we travel down that road, it can quickly become a cycle of tit-for-tat, a race to the bottom, where all sides lose", he continued.
"Since the trilateral agreement went into effect in 1994, USA trade with your NAFTA partners has tripled". Free trade has worked. That accounts for millions of well paying middle-class jobs, for Canadians and Americans.
"But NAFTA isn't flawless".
The speech came as Trump readies to re-enter negotiations with Canada and Mexico to alter NAFTA, the Clinton-era free trade deal Trump frequently criticized during the campaign because he said it puts US workers and companies at a disadvantage.
Candidate Trump railed against NAFTA, dubbing it "the worst trade deal maybe ever signed anywhere" in 2016.