About Colin Robertson

A former Canadian diplomat, Colin Robertson is a Senior Advisor to Dentons LLP living in Ottawa, Canada and working with the Business Council of Canada. He is Vice President and Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.  He is an Executive Fellow at the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy and a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University. He is on the advisory councils of the  Conference of Defence Associations Institute and the North  American Research Partnership. He is an Honorary Captain (Royal Canadian Navy) assigned to the Strategic Communications Directorate. He writes a column every two weeks on foreign affairs for  the Globe and Mail and he is a regular contributor to other media.

Colin can be reached by email at cr@colinrobertson.ca

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Trump and NATO

CTV News Interview with Bureau Chief Joyce Napier

Donald Trump glides effortlessly from mercantilism on trade to reciprocity in collective security ie we will trade with you as long as we make a profit and we will defend you as long as you pay your fair share (with that share to be determined by Mr. Trump).

It is true the Alliance has had a free ride on the back of US security, especially since the Cold War and that especially since 9-11 the USA under Bush and Obama, has puuhed the Allies to do more. Jeff Goldberg writes in his Atlantic article on the Obama doctrine that President Obama told UK PM David Cameron that the special relationship depended on UK spending more on defence. Cameron spent more. President Obama had same message for  Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – in his June speech to Parliament he said 3X that NATO needs more Canada.

What Mr. Trump said on defence is brutal and unsophisticated and would destroy the Alliance,  it will be the same message ie USA expects more from the Allie –  that Hillary Clinton will deliver to the Alliance as well.  Bob Gates said it best in his farewell remarks tto NATO as Defence Secretary: “The blunt reality is that there will be dwindling appetite and patience in the U.S. Congress, and in the American body politic writ large, to expend increasingly precious funds on behalf of nations that are apparently unwilling to devote the necessary resources … to be serious and capable partners in their own defense.”

http://www.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=916172

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Hidden Wiring of Canada US Relations

 

How Canada can avoid falling victim to Trump’s protectionist rhetoric

MILWAUKEE, WIS. — The Globe and Mail Tuesday, Jul. 19, 2016

In the coming days both the Republicans and Democrats will adopt platforms that will underline American concerns around security and trade. Donald Trump pledges to “rip up” all existing trade deals “to make really good ones.” Even when we are not the direct target, Canadian interests, especially trade, are at risk of becoming collateral damage.

Assuaging U.S. security concerns and containing the protectionist instinct requires an all-Canada effort by our national and provincial governments.

At the Washington summit in March and then last month in Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his ministers worked with the Obama administration to strengthen perimeter security with a joint entry-exit program that also should give greater confidence in easing border access.

The Ottawa meeting also endorsed a trilateral competitiveness work plan with a series of measures to reinforce supply chain efficiencies, innovation and stakeholder consultation and outreach. In practical terms, it will help business: further expediting travel with the NEXUS “fast pass” and, eventually, a single electronic portal that satisfies the information requirements of the governments’ multiple agencies.

This effort, led by our trade ministers, should also serve as basis for a continental Plan B so that we can realize the gains from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement should it fail to secure the required congressional approval for implementation.

We need similar efforts at the state level. This is where protectionist fires start, usually through “ Buy America” policies that are then copied at the congressional level. But by the time these flames reach Congress, we are essentially firefighting so it is better to tamp them down at their source.

Our fire hose has three streams.

First, the hard data that demonstrates that 35 American states export more to Canada than anywhere else in the world. We are the second-largest export market for most of the rest. The data also shows how much the U.S. needs what we sell to them. A recent study for our Washington Embassy concluded that 78 per cent of what we sell to the U.S. is then used to make goods and services in the U.S. Trade with Canada generates an estimated nine million U.S. jobs. We need to define these by district and state.

The second stream is the web of existing reciprocal agreements that cover everything from trade to lending a helping hand in fighting fires, floods, pandemics and other disasters. Many are practical understandings negotiated by states and provinces. Reciprocity means equal treatment, a concept even Mr. Trump can understand, and the basis of cross-border agreements since before Confederation.

The third stream is public diplomacy. Prime Minister Trudeau has taken our envoys off the Harper government’s short leash and told them to be creative in pursuit of Canadian interests.

Our Consul General in Chicago, Roy Norton, entertained Midwest state legislators this past weekend in Milwaukee using a Jeopardy-styled game to inform them on Canada, helping by samplings of Ontario wine and Quebec beer.

After a decade of cuts, however, public diplomacy needs reinvestment in resources and budgets. Given that the U.S. accounts for three-quarters of our trade this would seem to be a “no-brainer.”

If “all politics is local,” then provincial premiers and legislators have a vital and continuing role in reaching out to their state counterparts and reminding them that doing and making things together generates mutual prosperity.

In Calgary this week, the Pacific Northwest Economic Region brings together over 80 legislators from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Alaska, Yukon, Northwest Territories, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. Meanwhile in Milwaukee, several hundred legislators from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario are meeting with their Council of State Governments’ counterparts from 11 Midwest states.

Legislators build relationships that are important, today and tomorrow, especially given the ladder nature of U.S. political careers. Barack Obama was an Illinois state legislator in 2004. Five years later he was the U.S. president.

These get-togethers debate and pass resolutions on regional issues and in previous years they have encouraged border co-operation and opposed protectionism like country-of-origin labelling. In Milwaukee this weekend legislators endorsed a resolution for a “Protein Highway” to encourage research and entrepreneurship between the Prairie provinces and Great Plains states on high-protein crops.

These regional get-togethers, operating with little fanfare or attention, most closely resemble extended family reunions. They constitute the hidden wiring of our continental relationship. They do practical work.

They contribute to a relationship best described by Harry Truman. This quintessential Midwestern U.S. president, speaking to the Canadian Parliament in 1947 said its working principle is “compounded of one part proximity and nine parts good will and commonsense.”

Relationships, whether prime minister to president or legislator to legislator, are what build good will and common sense.

Canada, NATO and the Defence Review

 

Canada must start pulling its weight in NATO

Colin Robertson The Globe and Mail Tuesday, Jul. 05, 2016

This week’s NATO summit in Warsaw will test the Trudeau government’s commitment to collective security.

Speaking last week in Canada’s House of Commons, U.S. President Barack Obama called on every NATO member to contribute its “full share to our common security.” So that there was no mistake about his message, Mr. Obama repeated his call three times that NATO “needs more Canada.”

The next day the Trudeau government announced that Canada will take a “leadership role” to support NATO in Eastern Europe. Putting boots on the ground is demonstrable support for deterrence. It illustrates continuity with the Harper government’s earlier commitments of fighter jets and trainers to Eastern Europe. It is also smart politics: three million Canadians claim Eastern European origins, 1.2 million from Ukraine alone.

Canada’s new contribution will be welcomed in Warsaw but there is still a big gap between Canada’s current spending of 1 per cent of GDP on defence and NATO’s 2-per-cent standard. With the U.S. currently spending 3.62 per cent and tired of carrying the rest of the alliance, neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump will likely be as gentle as Mr. Obama in pressuring Canada and other NATO members to budget more on defence.

The 28 nations that make up the NATO alliance face a series of crises, including leadership changes. Europe is weakened by economic malaise, the migrant crisis, and now Brexit, a contagion that threatens to spread across Europe. To the east, the alliance confronts a revanchist Russia. On its southern flank there is continuing turmoil in the Middle East and terrorist strikes deep into member countries.

The spine that sustains our beleaguered liberal international order is collective security. Collective security depends on a credible deterrence supported by all members of NATO.

The Warsaw summit comes as the government concludes its cross-country consultations on Canada’s new defence policy. Two submissions, by retired naval officers Bruce Donaldson and Glenn Davidson, stand out.

Retired vice-admiral Donaldson argues that the key questions in the review are not the what, when and where but rather, “how much … how soon, and for how long … how many at the same time”, and “at how much risk”? To enhance Arctic sovereignty, Mr. Donaldson recommends investments in high data-rate communications, navigation safety, air and ground transportation infrastructure, and monitoring of activity in remote internal areas.

In his submission, Mr. Davidson warns that while planning is useful, “things will only rarely happen as forecast.” This underlines the need for a flexible Canadian Forces response capability and to maintain interoperability with U.S. Forces. Mr. Davidson, who later served as Canadian ambassador in Syria and Afghanistan, also says that because deployments historically extend well beyond their originally anticipated date, we need to build sustainability into operating budgets.

Both admirals are also critical of recent defence management. Mr. Davidson argues for greater risk tolerance, more continuity in senior positions and a “long pause” in continual “organizational tinkering.” Mr. Donaldson warns of the culture of “risk intolerance” that infects government with the senior bureaucracy adverse to all financial risks and ministers reluctant to make decisions. The result is serial delays at the cost of capacity and capability.

Later this week Dr. David Bercuson will release a collection of essays by experts on Canada’s defence challenges, underlining the importance of collective security and the U.S. defence partnership. Dr. Bercuson’s essay warns that Canada “must never spread itself too thinly, try to do too much across the spectrum of military operations, or use the military as tokens where tokenism won’t count for much.”

The Trudeau government has shown deftness in its handling of foreign policy and leadership on climate and migration. It understands soft power and the importance of multilateral engagement and dialogue. But experience suggests that a credible deterrence is a precondition for constructive dialogue with adversaries.

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Obama Speech to Parliament

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NAFTA and Trump

Reality check: Canada has ‘no appetite to scrap trade,’ despite NAFTA poll

The Ambassador Bridge between Windsor, Ont., and Detroit, Mich., is the busiest international border crossing in North America, handling 25 per cent of all merchandise trade between Canada and the U.S.

Jason Kryk / The Windsor Star filesThe Ambassador Bridge between Windsor, Ont., and Detroit, Mich., is the busiest international border crossing in North America, handling 25 per cent of all merchandise trade between Canada and the U.S.OTTAWA — With Brexit and growing U.S. protectionism as a backdrop, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, standing next to Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, warned Tuesday that “turning inwards” will come “at the cost of economic growth.”

But as headlines indicated this week, only one in four Canadians thinks the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is good for the country, according to the Angus Reid Institute.

It’s a “stunning rejection” of the “free-trade agenda,” the Council of Canadians proclaimed Tuesday. But others question whether policymakers and politicians have managed to communicate the benefits of integration.

How do we really feel?

NAFTA came into effect in 1994, replacing the 1987 Canada-U.S. free-trade agreement.About 10 years on, a 2003 Ipsos Reid survey found 70 per cent of Canadians supported the deal.

But 22 years later, half of Canadians were neutral or unsure. A quarter think it’s bad, but another quarter think it’s good.

There is no appetite to scrap trade. Canada … has morphed into a pro-trade country.

Though 34 per cent said the deal should be “renegotiated,” 24 per cent said it should be “strengthened and expanded.” More people would leave it as it is (11 per cent) than would kill it (nine per cent).

Nearly a quarter don’t know how they feel. Roughly the same proportion were found in U.K. polls to be unsure about leaving the European Union, three months before last week’s referendum.

“There is no appetite to scrap trade,” said pollster Shachi Kurl. “Canada … has morphed into a pro-trade country.” Polls last year found 57 per cent of Canadians saw international trade as the No. 1 foreign policy priority.

Laura Dawson, director of the Wilson Center’s Canada Institute, said NAFTA is a “bad brand,” but people still support exports and foreign investment.

But what has NAFTA actually done?

Canada and Mexico both do far more trade with the U.S. than with each other.

The U.S. sees a modest, but positive, impact from NAFTA, most think-tanks agree. Some debate whether the deal has stymied Mexico’s growth. Canada is generally seen as a winner.

A special report from BMO Capital Markets last week shows Canada’s total trade within NAFTA went from $239 billion in 1994 to $567 billion in 2015. Concurrently, unemployment went from 10.4 per cent to 6.9 per cent.

The Council of Canadians blames NAFTA for the loss of about half a million jobs. But the U.S.-based Council on Foreign Relations estimates job gains in Canada at 4.7 million since NAFTA’s entrance.

Free trade is an easy but unfair target when job losses hit, explained Colin Robertson, vice-president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.

Manufacturing-heavy Ontario and British Columbia were indeed the only provinces to show more negative than positive reactions to NAFTA in the recent poll, Kurl noted.

In 2014, the Canada-based Centre for International Governance Innovation concluded that although NAFTA could be “significantly improved,” it exceeded trade and investment expectations.

The Canadian Press files

The Canadian Press filesIn April 2015, a yard in Gascoyne, N.D., stored hundreds of kilometres of pipe that was supposed to go into the Keystone XL pipeline. it hasn’t and TransCanada Corp. is seeking more than $15 billion compensation under the North American Free Trade Agreement following the U.S. government’s rejection of the proposed pipeline.

What does the future look like?

Enter Donald Trump. The presumptive Republican presidential candidate called NAFTA “the worst trade deal in the history of this country” Tuesday, promising either to withdraw or renegotiate it.

A recent Bloomberg poll found 44 per cent of Americans see the deal as bad for their economy.

Casting another shadow, TransCanada Corp. launched a $15-billion lawsuit against the U.S. government under NAFTA rules Friday for rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline.

Though Dawson said Canada would still be among trade allies under a Trump presidency, renegotiating NAFTA could open Pandora’s box — and “a lot of things go flying out.”

Still, she said, Trudeau, Pena Nieto and outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama will take pains Wednesday to quell fears and assert existing trade relationships are “not going anywhere.”

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Mexico Canada: Visa and Beef

Beef industry celebrates ‘symbolic’ re-opening of Mexican market

Normalization of trade in Canada’s 3rd-largest beef export market a ‘high priority’

By Janyce McGregor, CBC News Posted: Jun 28, 2016 3:28 PM ETLast Updated: Jun 28, 2016 3:28 PM ET

The North American beef industry soon will be fully integrated once again, following Tuesday's announcement that Mexico will lift its remaining restrictions on Canadian beef imports Oct. 1.

The North American beef industry soon will be fully integrated once again, following Tuesday’s announcement that Mexico will lift its remaining restrictions on Canadian beef imports Oct. 1. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

Mexico will fully re-open its market to Canadian beef imports on Oct. 1, offering Canada’s farmers valuable new customers for their mature cattle this fall.

The resumption of full trade in beef was part of a suite of announcements as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held bilateral talks with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on Parliament Hill Tuesday.

Canada announced it will lift its visa rules for Mexican travellers on Dec.1, removing another longstanding irritant between the two countries.

Mexico was among dozens of countries that suspended beef trade with Canada after a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) was detected in 2003.

While imports of some products later resumed, live cattle and meat from animals over 30 months of age (referred to as OTM products) were still restricted, cutting off trade in ground beef and other specialty meats.

The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association says that normalized trade with Mexico marks the removal of one of Canada’s few remaining BSE-related restrictions: only China, Taiwan and Indonesia continue to block certain Canadian beef products.

Fall change timely

CCA president Dan Darling said the reopening gives Canadian farmers the confidence they need to expand their herds in the future.

“When our production increases to previous levels, I believe that Mexico could again import more than $250 million per year, like it used to,” he said in a statement. Between one-quarter and one-fifth of that used to be OTM beef.

The Oct. 1 effective date is timely.

“The months of October and November are traditionally the time of year when Canadian beef farmers send most of their mature breeding cows to market,” Darling said.

Even with the limited access, Canadian beef exports to Mexico have averaged over $130 million annually for the last five years, according to the Canadian Meat Council.

Mexico is seen as a growing market, with expanding middle-class appetites for beef that exceed domestic production.

“The full normalization of trade in beef products with Mexico has been a high priority,” said Canadian Meat Council President Joe Reda.

Signal to other new markets

Mexico is considered a high-value market for certain beef products that don’t sell as well elsewhere.

In a release, the council estimated incremental sales worth $10 million annually from Tuesday’s announcement. (Incremental sales value results when a new export market is prepared to pay more than current customers for the same products.)

But beef producers are also celebrating the signal this market restoration sends to other potential customers, as the North American industry becomes fully integrated once more.

“The concession by Mexico on beef is really symbolic,” former diplomat Colin Robertson told CBC News. 

“We’re very anxious to get into other markets — the United Kingdom as well as Asia — and having a clean bill of health from the Mexicans was something that was holding us back a little bit when we were trying to sell into places like Korea, China, Japan and Europe.”

Carlo Dade from the Canada West Foundation called the announcement great news, especially for Western Canada.

But he noted “a huge disconnect” in the fact that many Albertans supported keeping the visa restrictions against Mexico despite its industry benefiting from the beef deal.

“What happened with beef and the visas is an object lesson that will be completely lost on the people of Alberta,” he said.

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Three Amigos Summit

In Canada, Mexican President calls for ‘economic integration’ of North America

Robert Fife – Ottawa Bureau Chief

OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail

Published Monday, Jun. 27, 2016 11:39AM EDT

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto arrived in Canada Monday for an official state visit, using his first remarks to call for the “economic integration” of North America.

Governor-General David Johnston welcomed the Mexican leader at the historic Citadelle in Quebec City as Mr. Nieto begins two days of bilateral talks with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the premiers of Quebec and Ontario as well as business leaders in advance of Wednesday’s summit of the North American leaders that will include U.S. President Barack Obama.

“Canadians and Mexicans alike share values and development goals and we also share a single vision of the world we want,” Mr. Nieto said. “Let us take stock of our affinity and agreement to bolster innovation and environmental sustainability and also to foster the economic integration of North America.”

During their bilateral talks, officials say Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Nieto will remind North Americans “how lucky we are to be where we are … and we are a lot more successful when we tackle shared problems together rather than put up walls.”

The three leaders of North America will trumpet the benefits of liberalized free trade and the necessity of countries to work in unison when they gather in Ottawa for a summit that had been set up largely to focus on the environment but has been turned upside down by the stunning British vote to exit the European Union.

But the shocking British vote to secede from the EU has forced the leaders to reassess the game plan and put a greater emphasis on free trade when they gather for the one-day summit to be held at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.

“These three leaders are aligned in believing we need trade relations and we are very lucky to have a continental approach,” Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said in an interview. “When you look at the North American market, it is a very significant market. It is a great message to the world that we are working together and we believe in trade.”

Mr. Trudeau will also rescind visa restrictions on Mexican travellers, a major irritant since 2009, when they were imposed by the former Conservative government to curb the flow of bogus refugees.

“We are a progressive government. The visas are being lifted. That is a campaign commitment to Mexicans,” Ms. McKenna said.

Sources say the two leaders will sign agreements on educational exchanges, and share “best practices” on ending the social isolation and exploitation of indigenous people in both countries. Canada will also offer intelligence and training to combat Mexico’s drug violence.

However, Canadian and Mexican officials say the real aim of the discussions is to set up a partnership to combat what both leaders see as rising protectionist sentiment in the U.S., their biggest trading partner.

A Mexican official noted that both countries teamed up to fight U.S. action, through the World Trade Organization, on country-of-origin labelling for meat products, as well as an attempt by the United States during the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations to allow Japanese vehicles to be imported tariff-free to North America, with just 30-per-cent content. Canada and Mexico forced the cap up to 45 per cent. It is currently 62.5 per cent.

“The protectionist fires are starting to blow, whether we are talking about Hillary Clinton and her opposition to TPP or Donald Trump, who is anti-everything and wants to build a wall between Mexico. We are going to need allies to try and fend off these protectionist winds,” Colin Robertson, vice-president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, said in an interview. “Working with Mexico on country of origin and the TPP, we were able to push back – but especially on country of origin, which is basically a protectionist measure. By both threatening retaliatory action, Congress folded. On our own, we would not have been successful.”

About 40 per cent of what the United States buys from Mexico starts out in the United States, while 25 per cent of what Americans buy from Canada comes from the United States.

Measures to tackle climate change, including a commitment from Mexico to join Canada and the United States to reduce methane gases by 40 per cent, will be announced on Wednesday, as well as harmonization of environmental regulations.

“Canada and Mexico will sign a memorandum of understanding to work together on sharing information on how to foster native languages, protect indigenous art and help women facing domestic and street violence, as well as look at ways to engage indigenous people as partners in resource development.

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Three Amigos Meet

Three Amigos expected to make some real deals on energy, tout North American trade

Lee Berthiaume, Ottawa Citizen and Marie-Danielle Smith | June 27, 2016 9:48 PM ET

Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto, left, with President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Manila in November.

Susan Walsh/The Canadian PressMexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto, left, with President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Manila in November.
OTTAWA — Get ready for hard commitments on clean energy and a soft sell on North American trade.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hosts Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto on a state visit this week, before U.S. President Barack Obama joins them for the Three Amigos summit on Wednesday. Climate change will figure prominently, but so will the importance of all three countries working together economically.

Here’s what to expect:

Climate change and clean energy

Eric Feferber / AFP, Getty Images

Eric Feferber / AFP, Getty Images President Barack Obama delivers a speech during the plenary session at the COP 21 United Nations conference on climate change, on November 30, 2015.

In his last year in the White House, Obama has been pushing for real action on climate change.The three leaders will follow that up by committing to increase the amount of clean energy produced in North America from 37 per cent today to 50 per cent in 2025. The ambitious goal, revealed by the White House, includes producing more energy by renewables, nuclear and carbon capture technologies.

The commitment will form the foundation of a comprehensive North American clean energy action plan, said Obama’s senior adviser, Brian Deese. “We believe this is an aggressive goal, but for all three countries, one that we believe is achievable continent-wide.”

Liberal officials say growing the share of clean energy produced across North America goes hand-in-hand with advancing closer economic integration. “It’s about sustainable jobs and sustainable growth,” said one official.

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said the three leaders will also talk about ways to integrate alternatives into continental energy grids and harmonize energy efficiency standards to make it easier for the clean energy sector to grow.

North American trade

Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Joe Raedle / Getty ImagesFree-trade along the Canada-U.S. border could come up at the so-called “Three Amigos” summit.

Pena Nieto, meanwhile, began his visit to Canada in Quebec City on Monday, where he called for greater economic integration. Liberal sources say it’s a message that has taken on added importance amid NAFTA-bashing in the U.S. presidential race, and after last week’s Brexit vote.

“The rhetoric will only get hotter south of the border,” said one Liberal official. “And (Brexit) hit home for us that protectionist sentiments exist everywhere and have to be confronted.”

A poll by the Angus Reid Institute found about one quarter of Canadians felt the North American free trade deal was good for the country, and an equal number thought it was bad. However, the same number said they didn’t know. Officials say it’s those people the government plans to talk to over the coming days.

“I think it’s the same message you saw around immigration and welcoming Syrian refugees,” said another Liberal official. “That we’re stronger together than apart.”

Former Canadian ambassador to Washington Michael Kergin said the message of economic co-operation will be directed not just at North Americans, but also Europeans, in hopes of easing “cynicism” and “anxieties” about the concept of regional unity.

Nevertheless, all three North American leaders are going to have to be careful about how they broadcast their message to make sure they don’t stir up the type of anti-free trade sentiments they are trying to fight, said Carlo Dade, an expert on North American trade and investment at the Canada West Foundation.

Trade disputes

Peter J. Thompson/National Post

Peter J. Thompson/National PostTrade rules for lumber remain a major U.S.-Canadian conflict.

The three leaders will be all smiles when talking trade, but some disputes have been bubbling beneath the surface. The main concerns for Canada are the softwood lumber dispute with the U.S., and Mexico’s continued ban on some Canadian beef.

The beef ban goes back to 2003, when bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) was discovered in Canadian cattle, and the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association estimates it will cost Canada about $10 million this year. Officials, however, have indicated a deal will be announced during Pena Nieto’s visit.

A solution to the softwood lumber dispute is less likely. At stake is billions of dollars for Canada’s softwood lumber industry, and Canadian officials are terrified it could become an election issue down south.

Of the softwood lumber dispute, former Canadian diplomat Colin Robertson, now vice-president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, said: “In the past this has been a real friction point for Canada and the U.S. This is one you would prefer to put behind us.”

Mexican visas

The Liberals will start to make good on their election promise to lift visa requirements for Mexican travellers. Officials warn, however, that the visas won’t automatically disappear. Rather, Trudeau will announce an “ambitious” schedule for having them removed in the coming weeks.

The Harper government introduced the visa requirement in 2009, after thousands of Mexicans flooded Canada’s refugee system. While the Conservatives said it was necessary to keep out “bogus” refugees, it quickly became a barrier to relations between Canada and Mexico.

Reinstating visa-free travel will remove that barrier, but officials say they will be watching closely to see whether there is a spike in refugee claims from Mexico.

U.S. election and human rights

Trudeau and Pena Nieto are expected to pick Obama’s brain about the upcoming U.S. presidential election, with an eye toward dealing with President Clinton or President Trump. Clinton previously served as Obama’s secretary of state.

Meanwhile, Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada, said refugees from Central American countries are regularly persecuted in Mexico and it’s “unconscionable” for leaders to talk about free-flowing borders without addressing this “dramatic human rights crisis.”

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Three Amigos Summit

Three Amigos, three tests for Trudeau

The Globe and Mail Jun. 26, 2016

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faces three tests during this week’s North American Leaders’ Summit. The first is to reset the relationship with Mexico. The second is to sustain with U.S. President Barack Obama the positive momentum of the recent Washington summit. The third, a challenge for all three leaders, is to demonstrate anew, post-Brexit vote, their collective commitment to continental economic integration.

Resetting the Mexican relationship is overdue. It will start when – as repeatedly promised during last year’s federal election campaign, in the mandate letters to cabinet ministers and in his initial meeting at the G20 with President Enrique Pena Nieto – Mr. Trudeau lifts visa restrictions for Mexicans visiting Canada.

Official relations have been in the doldrums since the Harper government imposed a visa in July, 2009. Mexicans had become our top refugee claimants. The visa stopped the claimants, although much of the problem was our own laxness, since remedied in subsequent legislation.

Canadian trade and investment in Mexico is under-appreciated. Mexico is our third-largest market with real potential for further growth. It’s our most popular tourist destination after the United States. But imposing the visa made the flow a one-way street, significantly curbing Mexican investment, tourism and study in Canada.

Once the visa is lifted, the Mexicans are keen to expand the relationship – including climate and energy, trade and investment, and people-to-people connections.

On the cultural front, Mr. Pena Nieto’s visit coincides, by intent, with an exhibition of the celebrated Mexican modernist painter Rufino Tamayo at the National Gallery of Canada.

We should reciprocate with a similar exhibition and link it to another in the successful series of innovation missions led by Governor-General David Johnston. We should also use such visits to increase by tenfold the number of exchange students studying in our two countries.

We worked closely and successfully with Mexico in persuading the U.S. to lift its iniquitous country-of-origin-labelling requirements on our beef and cattle trade. By standing together, we have a much better chance of rebuffing the protectionist headwinds generated in the current U.S. election campaign.

As a first step, our ambassadors and consuls in the U.S. should meet regularly to share their playbooks and to co-ordinate messaging about the value of North American economic integration. Few Americans appreciate that 25 per cent of what they buy from Canada and 40 per cent of what they purchase from Mexico was made in the United States.

Mr. Trudeau’s second test is to further consolidate with Mr. Obama measures to advance regulatory co-operation and to ease border congestion for people and goods. Much of this can have trilateral application. We both need to deliver on our respective legislation enabling pre-clearance for those travelling from Billy Bishop and Jean Lesage airports and by rail from Montreal and Vancouver, and to share no-fly lists.

Mr. Obama needs to give a final nudge – an executive order would be nice – to departments and agencies to fully implement the spirit of “cleared once, accepted twice” on goods entering our shared perimeter.

Significant differences” continue to divide Canadian and American negotiators on softwood lumber. A recent update by International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman effectively punts the Freddy Krueger of trade irritants down the road. The Trudeau government must avoid letting softwood lumber become the drag and focus of the relationship that the Keystone XL pipeline permit became for the Harper government.

Leaving the file with the USTR, probably the most Canada-unfriendly of U.S. agencies, is a recipe for litigation and confiscatory levies. Here again, Mr. Obama could give a helping push from the White House (as did George W. Bush in reaching the 2006 accord).

The third test for leaders Obama, Pena Nieto and Trudeau is to renew their nations’ commitment to closer economic and environmental integration.

The trilateral work of our Foreign, Energy and Trade ministers will be reinforced and advanced by the leaders. We can and should be beacons against the increasingly dark forces of xenophobia and protectionism of which Brexit is the most conspicuous manifestation. Ottawa promises to be a “green” summit – building, in continental fashion, on the achievements of the Paris climate accord.

We make things together, increasingly, in a sustainable fashion. This is the North American competitive advantage: energy independence and abundant resources; a lead in research and development; and, if we would only lift the mobility constraints, a talented labour pool.

North American integration demonstrates a different model from that of Europe. It is less centralized and less bureaucratic. It works for each of us, reinforcing rather than undermining our respective sovereignties. It’s a message that our leaders need to communicate at home and abroad, loudly and clearly, again and again.

A Primer to the North American Leaders’ Summit (NALS)

A_Primer_to_the_North_American_Leaders_Montages.jpg

Image: SUSAN WALSH / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

by Colin Robertson
CGAI Vice-President and Fellow

June, 2016

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Table of Contents

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Preparing for Three Amigos Summit

Brexit prompts new agenda for North American Leaders’ Summit

Robert Fife – OTTAWA BUREAU CHIEF

The Globe and Mail

Published Sunday, Jun. 26, 2016 9:24PM

The three leaders of North America will trumpet the benefits of liberalized free trade and the necessity of countries to work in unison when they gather in Ottawa for a summit that had been set up largely to focus on the environment but has been turned upside down by the stunning British vote to exit the European Union.

Senior Canadian and Mexican officials told The Globe and Mail last week that there would be little focus on free trade at the summit to avoid causing any political damage to Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, who is battling anti-free trade Republican contender Donald Trump in the U.S. presidential election.

But the shocking British vote to secede from the EU has forced the leaders of Canada, the United States and Mexico to reassess the game plan for Wednesday’s North American Leaders’ Summit, to be held at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, officials say.

“Obviously it is going to be a much bigger issue than had there been a Remain vote,” a senior Canadian official said on Sunday. “All three leaders, who have spoken on the phone, are all keen to express the sentiment that there is a part of the world that believes in openness and trade, and free exchange of people and goods.”

Officials say Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, who arrives in Canada on Monday for a state visit, will remind North Americans “how lucky we are to be where we are … and we are a lot more successful when we tackle shared problems together rather than put up walls.”

When the summit gets under way on Wednesday with the arrival of U.S. President Barack Obama, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna said, the world will hear a strong message about the advantages of free trade.

“These three leaders are aligned in believing we need trade relations and we are very lucky to have a continental approach,” Ms. McKenna said in an interview. “When you look at the North American market, it is a very significant market. It is a great message to the world that we are working together and we believe in trade.”

When Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Pena Nieto meet over the next two days, sources say their focus will be on forging a new partnership to act as a counterweight against rising U.S. protectionism.

The Mexican leader arrives in Quebec City, where he will be greeted by Governor-General David Johnston. He later flies to Toronto to speak to a business group and dine with Mr. Trudeau and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne.

Mr. Trudeau will also rescind visa restrictions on Mexican travellers, a major irritant since 2009, when they were imposed by the former Conservative government to curb the flow of bogus refugees.

“We are a progressive government. The visas are being lifted. That is a campaign commitment to Mexicans,” Ms. McKenna said.

Sources say the two leaders will sign agreements on educational exchanges, and share “best practices” on ending the social isolation and exploitation of indigenous people in both countries. Canada will also offer intelligence and training to combat Mexico’s drug violence.

“We are going to have a wide-ranging discussion on security, and for Mexico, it truly has very significant security issues,” a Canadian official said. “We have world-class talent on that part on all of our institutions, from the RCMP, CSIS [Canadian Security Intelligent Service] and CSE [Communications Security Establishment]. We have world-class assets that countries like Mexico could really learn from.”

However, Canadian and Mexican officials say the real aim of the discussions is to set up a partnership to combat what both leaders see as rising protectionist sentiment in the U.S., their biggest trading partner.

A Mexican official noted that both countries teamed up to fight U.S. action, through the World Trade Organization, on country-of-origin labelling for meat products, as well as an attempt by the United States during the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations to allow Japanese vehicles to be imported tariff-free to North America, with just 30-per-cent content. Canada and Mexico forced the cap up to 45 per cent. It is currently 62.5 per cent.

“The protectionist fires are starting to blow, whether we are talking about Hillary Clinton and her opposition to TPP or Donald Trump, who is anti-everything and wants to build a wall between Mexico. We are going to need allies to try and fend off these protectionist winds,” Colin Robertson, vice-president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, said in an interview. “Working with Mexico on country of origin and the TPP, we were able to push back – but especially on country of origin, which is basically a protectionist measure. By both threatening retaliatory action, Congress folded. On our own, we would not have been successful.”

About 40 per cent of what the United States buys from Mexico starts out in the United States, while 25 per cent of what Americans buy from Canada comes from the United States.

Former prime minister Brian Mulroney said on Friday that continental free trade created almost five million jobs in Canada and doubled the country’s GDP to $1.8-trillion since 1994, when the North American Free Trade Agreement took effect.

Measures to tackle climate change, including a commitment from Mexico to join Canada and the United States to reduce methane gases by 40 per cent, will be announced on Wednesday, as well as harmonization of environmental regulations.

“This is a real opportunity – it doesn’t come that often where you have governments who are extremely aligned on a clean-energy, clean-growth strategy,” Ms. McKenna said. “There is an economic opportunity when we have standards that are similar, so when it comes to vehicles and trucks, there are things we can do there.”

Canada and Mexico will sign a memorandum of understanding to work together on sharing information on how to foster native languages, protect indigenous art and help women facing domestic and street violence, as well as look at ways to engage indigenous people as partners in resource development.

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