It has been worrisome lately that Justin Trudeau was heading off on a track that would take him too far from the liberalism we shared with his father. It is therefore important to note that he has done something with which a liberal can easily concur.
The younger Trudeau has made it clear to all that he stands for a three-country North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Both Trump and his agriculture secretary have stated that they would prefer to close a deal with Mexico before trying to resolve the remaining problems they say they have with Canada.
It would seem that the Americans are seeing Mexico as more desperate to maintain any level of trade agreement and Canada as the problem. They think they can bully the Mexicans to bring them on side and then, with Mexico locked in, they can strong-arm Canada to roll back some of the terms of the initial auto-pact that predated the Canada-U.S. NAFTA.
But when Donald Trump admits that he dreamed up the supposed deficits in trade with his country’s North American neighbours, he is not helping make his case for changes. His demand for a sunset clause coming every five years in the agreement would cause permanent instability. Companies dealing in major trade deals need to make long-term commitments to trading partners.
As things stand at this time, Mexico has a regime change in process that will take until December 1 to be completed. The incoming president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, has already said that he stands with Canada on it being a three-country agreement. What the Trump negotiators are going to offer to change his mind, we will likely learn the seriousness of his commitment on that this coming week.
The strategy was obvious when the Mexican negotiators were invited to Washington this week and Canada’s lead negotiator foreign minister Chrystia Freeland is staying in Ottawa.
It was originally the intent to put NAFTA on the back burner for the three countries during the period of the Mexican presidential election that took place July 1, and then through the American mid-term elections in November. Should the American House of Representatives and the Senate come under the control of the Democratic Party at that time there could be a concerted effort to take control of trade away from President Trump.
Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry
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