Trudeau trusting Trump?

Is that nice of Mr. Trump or is it not? He has given Canada this week to cave in to his absurd demands on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The U.S. president has proved to Trudeau on many occasions now that he is a liar, a braggard, a boor and a bad neighbour. His negotiators just finished putting the screws to the Mexicans, offering them a bilateral deal without Canada in the mix.

And now he is allowing Canada to come to the table. “Do it this week, if you do not mind.” Do it for the convenience of the Americans—after all, they are including Canada as an afterthought.

All Trudeau and his half-pint foreign minister have to agree to is giving up something on dairy supply management, agreeing to a sunset clause and letting the Americans weaken the dispute settlement clause. “And when you agree to those, we have another half dozen clauses you can cave in on.”

Mind you the reason the Americans have such a glut of milk to sell is that government subsidies account for more than half of their dairy farmers’ incomes. If the Americans would consider their own supply management of dairy products, their government could save as much as $20 billion per year.

The proposed sunset clause is also something of a red herring as any trade agreement is subject to partial or full review at any time. A sunset clause is always a worry for business. It threatens their long-term planning. They do not like uncertainty.

And, if anything, Mr. trump has proved that a dispute resolution clause in the agreement is essential. What if every occupant of the U.S. White House unilaterally imposed tariffs on America’s trading partners at a whim?

Despite Mr. Trump not being very respectful of laws, customs, decency and ethics, America is a country of law. It is a country with ambitions for world leadership. It is a country yearning for democracy.

They will need to admit that Mr. Trump’s current tenancy in the White House is an aberration and they should try not to let it happen again. Mr. Trump might seem to be having a fine time as Commander in Chief but he should remember that his occupancy is only a rental. He should try to leave things in decent shape for the next incumbent.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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