Repeated statements made by the United States President Donald Trump that he will make America Frist, especially when it comes to trade, has left its northern neighbor worried.
The United States is Canada’s number one trade partner and any disruption in the cross-border trade are bound to have a significant effect on Canada’s economy. Even threats of dissolving NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), signed in 1998, was enough to cause turbulence on Canada’s stock market. Mr. Trump once called NAFTA “the worst trade deal ever made,” yet he agreed to enter negotiations to renew the agreement. The first deadline for the adoption of the new NAFTA was set for May 1st, but negotiating teams failed to meet it. The new date is set for July 1st, and all three sides are working fervently in order to get things done by then.
“There is positive momentum, but as we all know it won’t be done until it’s done,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.
Despite Mr. Trudeau’s optimism, there are some people in Canada who remained worried. Milk industry representatives are among those who fear that new NAFTA will end a long-standing policy of guaranteed price for Canadian milk and steep tariffs for imported ones. Mr. Trump has particularly mentioned this system as an example of Canadians exploiting their southern neighbors through this deal.
Another sector that is under attack is logging industry. For years, Americans have argued that Canada is subsidizing its loggers by charging only minimal fees for logging on public land. Donald Trump’s administration took this one step further and imposed import tariffs of more than 20% on Canadian softwood lumber. According to Susan Yurkovich, of the British Columbia Lumber Trade Council, the only reason that industry is alive is a high demand from the United States and that any hint of the market slowing down would spell disaster for Canadian loggers.
All these have left a mark on the Canadian economy, according to Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz. Too much uncertainty has even forced some investors to abandon their plans and instead of in Canada, invest south of the border, especially in the lights of tax cuts Mr. Trump introduced recently. Considering that the trade between two countries totaled $674 billion last year, it is easy to see why any turbulence could cause a massive loss of money and jobs. That is why Mr. Trudeau and his associates are spending a lot of time in Washington, trying to charm American officials into accepting the new NAFTA.
Canadians are not the only ones pushing for the new deal. Many Americans share their opinion that NAFTA is an excellent agreement and that it should be renewed, even Republicans who are pro-trade are trying to pressure Mr. Trump into accepting it. With the new deal signed, temporary restrictions granted to Canada’s steel and aluminum manufacturers would probably become permanent, which is vital for many communities in Canada, especially Hamilton in Ontario, whose steel industry employs more than 10,000 people in the area.