The trying times of Trump.

Canada’s prime minister told Global News the other day that there is “a level of unpredictability” to the current trade talks with the Americans and Mexicans. What is really amazing is that one man, on a whim, can be allowed to jeopardize US$17 trillion in annual trade between the three countries. And yet, he might. U.S. President Donald Trump could order an end to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) within the next couple months.

Trump will explain that it is because of the intransigence of the Canadians and the Mexicans that cancellation is the only option. That is likely true. The problem will really be that the unreasonable demands of the Trump administration made it impossible to agree.

To date, the NAFTA negotiations have been a charade. Proposal and counter-proposal have been met with a stone wall. Instead of a give and take of an honest deal between friends, this has been the sham of a real estate developer’s deal, attempting to maximize the potential for one party’s profit.

How can the Mexicans take it seriously with the continued threat of a wall of discrimination and hate between their country and America?

Canadians entered these negotiations as neighbours and friends and find themselves vilified as abusers and users.

But that light we are seeing at the end of Trump’s tunnel vision is the realization that he can do far more harm to the United States than he can do to Canada. While the U.S. administration has been busy alienating the rest of the world, Canada has been out there making friends. We can never entirely end our cross-border trade with the U.S. but we can certainly reduce our dependency on it.

But Trump is doing that for us. We read the other day that his next target before ending NAFTA itself is Canadian newsprint. Along with driving up the cost of new homes in the U.S. with Trump tariffs on soft-wood lumber, he wants to drive the marginal daily newspapers in the U.S. out of business. Then more of his followers will have to rely on Trump tweets for news.

Canada’s most serious failing in this Trumpian trade fiasco is to look like we care. The end of NAFTA is hardly the end of the world. We are an industrious and creative society. There is a six-month transition to the end of NAFTA and the only industry likely to be completely screwed is the automotive. That will take years to sort out and you can figure that General Motors will have more clout than foreign minister Chrystia Freeland—so let GM solve it! And they had better remember that Canada helped the company survive the last time the American economy collapsed.


Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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