Canada, Mexico et Trump

Experts urge Ottawa to strengthen ties with Mexico

Speaking to the Senate foreign-affairs committee Thursday, Laura Dawson, director of the Canada Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, said Canada must make every effort to strengthen its relationship with Mexico as Mr. Trump moves into the White House with his anti-trade policies and plans to build a wall along the Mexican border.

“If the worst happens and the United States does withdraw from NAFTA and does impose the punitive policies that we hear about towards Mexico, it does not benefit Canada at all to pull away from that relationship as well,” Ms. Dawson said.

Campbell Clark: Amid fear over Trump, Mexico could lose Canada as an ally

Read more: What’s at stake for Canada, Mexico and the U.S. in Trump’s new NAFTA

Opinion: What would Canada-U.S. trade relations look like without NAFTA?

Colin Robertson, a former diplomat and vice-president and fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, says that Mr. Trump’s election has been incredibly troublesome to Canada’s relationship with the U.S. and Mexico.

“The election of Donald Trump is proving, at least in the short term, as disruptive to Canada-U.S. relations and Canada-Mexico relations as 9/11,” Mr. Robertson said. “Strengthening the partnership with Mexico makes strategic sense for Canada.”

Mr. Robertson said the Liberal government’s decision to lift a visa requirement on Mexicans wishing to enter the country is a good first step to improving relations with Mexico, but more needs to be done.

He suggested Prime Minister Justin Trudeau make the relationship a priority by putting Mexico on his travel agenda for 2017 and bringing the premiers with him on the trip. He also suggested that Governor-General David Johnston visit Mexico with the presidents of various Canadian universities in an effort to encourage Mexican students to study in Canada.

Mr. Robertson said Canada can also boost trade with Mexico, regardless of whether Mr. Trump follows through with his with his anti-trade agenda. With Mr. Trump promising to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, essentially killing the trade deal without U.S. support, he said Canada and Mexico – both of which are signatories to the TPP – still have a chance to salvage parts of the TPP and the North American free-trade Agreement.

“If the United States were to pull out of NAFTA, NAFTA in fact remains in place between Canada and Mexico and I think that we should be looking at a number of the things we were going to be doing with the United States in the Trans-Pacific Partnership and apply them, which we could do, to an updated Canada-Mexico agreement,” he said.

However, it appears Mr. Trump may be rethinking his campaign promise to pull out of NAFTA. In a 2½-minute video statement Monday where he unveiled his plans for his first 100 days in office, he did not mention NAFTA.

Ms. Dawson said Mr. Trump may change his tune on the trade deal once he hears the American business community’s reaction.

“Business was understandably silent during the U.S. election,” she said. “Now that we have a president-elect, I think business is going to be lined up down Pennsylvania Avenue explaining to the new administration how important trilateral supply chains are.”

In the case that the United States stays in NAFTA, Canada could use the opportunity to renegotiate parts of the massive trade deal to its benefit. Mr. Trudeau has already said Canada is more than happy to talk about trade deals, including NAFTA, if other countries want to reopen them.

Mr. Robertson said Canada would likely negotiate more professions onto the NAFTA mobility list and improved border access for Canadians entering the United States. On the American side, he suspects the United States would push for better protection of intellectual property.

In the meantime, Mr. Robertson said it’s time for the government to start re-educating the Canadian public on the importance of trade to the country.

“We stopped doing that in the mid-nineties and I think that’s a big mistake. I think we have to go back because Canada, of all the countries in the G8, we are really dependent on trade,” Mr. Robertson said.

Also on The Globe and Mail

Is TPP dead after Trump vows to pull out? (Reuters)

Élections de Donald Trump: le Canada ne doit pas abandonner le Mexique

Guillaume St-Pierre | Agence QMI

Donald Trump Holds Meeting At The New York Times

AFP

Alors que le président élu américain Donald Trump est prêt à brûler les ponts avec le Mexique, le Canada doit à l’inverse resserrer ses liens avec ce pays.

C’est du moins l’avis de deux experts entendus devant un comité du Sénat, jeudi.

Le chercheur de l’Université de Calgary, Colin Robertson, a dressé un constat sans appel: l’élection de Donald Trump à la Maison-Blanche perturbe avec la même intensité que les attentats du 11 septembre la relation tripartite entre le Canada, le Mexique et les États-Unis.Bien qu’il ait adouci ses positions depuis les élections, Donald Trump a promis de renvoyer des millions de Mexicains «illégaux», de construire un mur à la frontière du Mexique et de déchirer le traité commercial liant les trois pays d’Amérique du Nord.

Dans ce contexte, le gouvernement canadien doit résister à la tentation de tourner le dos à son partenaire mexicain, comme l’ont suggéré certains depuis l’élection de M. Trump.

«Je pense que c’est la mauvaise approche, a affirmé M. Robertson. Nous devons au contraire collaborer avec le Mexique sur les enjeux qui nous concernent.»

Sur l’environnement, par exemple, si les États-Unis décident de se retirer de l’Accord de Paris, «il y a beaucoup de choses que nous pouvons accomplir avec le Mexique», a-t-il expliqué.

Concernant les dossiers touchant à l’énergie, au commerce, ainsi que le sort de l’ALÉNA, Ottawa doit aussi garder ouverts les canaux de communications avec le gouvernement du président mexicain Enrique Peña Nieto, a ajouté l’expert.

La directrice de l’Institut canadien, Laura Dawson, est tout aussi catégorique: «Se désengager du Mexique ne nous permettra pas d’atteindre nos objectifs stratégiques», a-t-elle dit.

«Cela ne va pas améliorer notre relation avec les États-Unis», a-t-elle prévenu. Selon la chercheuse, l’importance des relations canado-mexicaines est souvent sous-estimée en raison de barrières géographiques, culturelles et linguistiques.

Conserver des liens étroits avec le Mexique est aussi une bonne idée du point de vue des affaires, a plaidé Mme Dawson.

«Le Mexique ne vole pas des emplois au Canada. Il en crée, a-t-elle dit. Il offre de la main-d’oeuvre spécialisée et performante.»

Le marché mexicain est aussi une mine d’or pour les entreprises canadiennes, avec ses quelque 40 millions de personnes faisant partie «de la classe moyenne».

«Cette population veut se procurer des biens que le Canada a à vendre», a-t-elle affirmé, citant les «produits de beauté, les aliments de luxe, et les services financiers».

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Trudeau et Trump

Experts urge Ottawa to strengthen ties with Mexico

OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail

Speaking to the Senate foreign-affairs committee Thursday, Laura Dawson, director of the Canada Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, said Canada must make every effort to strengthen its relationship with Mexico as Mr. Trump moves into the White House with his anti-trade policies and plans to build a wall along the Mexican border.

“If the worst happens and the United States does withdraw from NAFTA and does impose the punitive policies that we hear about towards Mexico, it does not benefit Canada at all to pull away from that relationship as well,” Ms. Dawson said.

Campbell Clark: Amid fear over Trump, Mexico could lose Canada as an ally

Read more: What’s at stake for Canada, Mexico and the U.S. in Trump’s new NAFTA

Opinion: What would Canada-U.S. trade relations look like without NAFTA?

Colin Robertson, a former diplomat and vice-president and fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, says that Mr. Trump’s election has been incredibly troublesome to Canada’s relationship with the U.S. and Mexico.

“The election of Donald Trump is proving, at least in the short term, as disruptive to Canada-U.S. relations and Canada-Mexico relations as 9/11,” Mr. Robertson said. “Strengthening the partnership with Mexico makes strategic sense for Canada.”

Mr. Robertson said the Liberal government’s decision to lift a visa requirement on Mexicans wishing to enter the country is a good first step to improving relations with Mexico, but more needs to be done.

He suggested Prime Minister Justin Trudeau make the relationship a priority by putting Mexico on his travel agenda for 2017 and bringing the premiers with him on the trip. He also suggested that Governor-General David Johnston visit Mexico with the presidents of various Canadian universities in an effort to encourage Mexican students to study in Canada.

Mr. Robertson said Canada can also boost trade with Mexico, regardless of whether Mr. Trump follows through with his with his anti-trade agenda. With Mr. Trump promising to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, essentially killing the trade deal without U.S. support, he said Canada and Mexico – both of which are signatories to the TPP – still have a chance to salvage parts of the TPP and the North American free-trade Agreement.

“If the United States were to pull out of NAFTA, NAFTA in fact remains in place between Canada and Mexico and I think that we should be looking at a number of the things we were going to be doing with the United States in the Trans-Pacific Partnership and apply them, which we could do, to an updated Canada-Mexico agreement,” he said.

However, it appears Mr. Trump may be rethinking his campaign promise to pull out of NAFTA. In a 2½-minute video statement Monday where he unveiled his plans for his first 100 days in office, he did not mention NAFTA.

Ms. Dawson said Mr. Trump may change his tune on the trade deal once he hears the American business community’s reaction.

“Business was understandably silent during the U.S. election,” she said. “Now that we have a president-elect, I think business is going to be lined up down Pennsylvania Avenue explaining to the new administration how important trilateral supply chains are.”

In the case that the United States stays in NAFTA, Canada could use the opportunity to renegotiate parts of the massive trade deal to its benefit. Mr. Trudeau has already said Canada is more than happy to talk about trade deals, including NAFTA, if other countries want to reopen them.

Mr. Robertson said Canada would likely negotiate more professions onto the NAFTA mobility list and improved border access for Canadians entering the United States. On the American side, he suspects the United States would push for better protection of intellectual property.

In the meantime, Mr. Robertson said it’s time for the government to start re-educating the Canadian public on the importance of trade to the country.

“We stopped doing that in the mid-nineties and I think that’s a big mistake. I think we have to go back because Canada, of all the countries in the G8, we are really dependent on trade,” Mr. Robertson said.

Publié le 09 novembre 2016 à 23h06 | Mis à jour le 10 novembre 2016 à 09h03

Trudeau a discuté avec Trump

Le premier ministre Justin Trudeau a dit s'être... (La Presse canadienne, Adrian Wyld)

Agrandir

Le premier ministre Justin Trudeau a dit s’être entretenu, mercredi, avec Donald Trump, pour le féliciter de sa victoire électorale. Le cabinet du premier ministre a indiqué que M. Trudeau et le président désigné ont réaffirmé l’importance de la relation bilatérale entre le Canada et les États-Unis et ont discuté de divers dossiers d’intérêt commun.

Fannie Olivier

La Presse Canadienne
Ottawa

Plusieurs politiciens à Ottawa ont tenté de se faire rassurants au lendemain de l’élection de Donald Trump à la présidence des États-Unis.

Le premier ministre Justin Trudeau a dit s’être entretenu, mercredi, avec M. Trump, pour le féliciter de sa victoire électorale. Le cabinet du premier ministre a indiqué que M. Trudeau et le président élu ont réaffirmé l’importance de la relation bilatérale entre le Canada et les États-Unis et ont discuté de divers dossiers d’intérêt commun.

Le premier ministre a invité le président élu à effectuer une visite au Canada «à la première occasion», et ce dernier a lancé la même invitation au premier ministre, a-t-on affirmé.

M. Trudeau l’avait d’abord félicité par communiqué, insistant sur le fait que le Canada n’a pas d’ami, de partenaire ou d’allié plus proche que les États-Unis.

«Nous sommes impatients de travailler de très près avec le président élu, M. Trump, et avec son administration et le Congrès des États-Unis au cours des prochaines années, notamment sur les dossiers du commerce, de l’investissement ainsi que de la paix et de la sécurité internationales», a-t-il écrit. Selon M. Trudeau, la relation qui unit les deux pays est «un exemple pour le reste du monde».

Tout au long de la campagne américaine, M. Trudeau avait pris soin de ne pas révéler quel candidat il préférait même si ses affinités avec les démocrates ne font pas de doute, répétant religieusement qu’il laissait aux Américains le choix de désigner leur président. L’élection de M. Trump étant une surprise pour à peu près tout le monde, M. Trudeau doit se féliciter d’avoir fait preuve d’une telle réserve.

Le premier ministre a semblé aussi vouloir apaiser les craintes des Canadiens, alors que les positions de M. Trump sur une multitude de dossiers sont carrément à l’opposé des siennes.

Devant un groupe de jeunes réunis à Ottawa dans le cadre de l’événement «We Day», il les a incités à prendre cette élection du bon côté, alors qu’à ses yeux, Américains et Canadiens de la classe moyenne partagent le même objectif: réussir.

«Nous avons besoin d’avoir des gouvernements qui écoutent et qui répondent à ces inquiétudes et à ces espoirs. Alors nous allons travailler fort (…) ensemble, et je vais travailler avec l’administration du président élu Trump et avec tous les partenaires autour du monde pour m’assurer qu’on est en train de bâtir le monde meilleur que vous méritez», a-t-il lancé.

Partis d’opposition

Du côté de l’opposition officielle, on a aussi insisté sur la force de l’amitié entre les deux pays.

«Les États-Unis sont, et vont demeurer, l’allié et ami le plus proche du Canada. Nos relations uniques ont passé le cap des près de 150 ans», a écrit la chef conservatrice intérimaire Rona Ambrose dans un communiqué.

À mots couverts, elle a néanmoins fait part de ses préoccupations en affirmant qu’elle allait «demander des comptes au gouvernement canadien» sur «le règlement d’irritants commerciaux comme le conflit sur le bois d’?uvre», de même que pour le maintien d’un «solide programme de libre-échange avec la nouvelle administration américaine». Car au cours de la campagne, M. Trump a pris des positions très protectionnistes, allant jusqu’à affirmer qu’il voulait renégocier l’ALÉNA.

Mme Ambrose a également remis le dossier du pipeline Keystone XL sur la table, un projet d’oléoduc que le candidat républicain a promis d’approuver. «Le Parti conservateur du Canada presse le premier ministre de communiquer avec le président élu Trump le plus tôt possible et de faire de l’approbation de ce projet créateur d’emplois une priorité absolue», a-t-elle indiqué. Le pipeline du promoteur TransCanada avait été rejeté par l’administration de Barack Obama.

La députation conservatrice semblait divisée devant l’élection de M. Trump, certains élus l’accueillant avec circonspection, d’autres, comme la candidate à la chefferie Kellie Leitch, avec un enthousiasme débridé. Elle a soutenu que les Américains avaient «jeté dehors les élites» en élisant M. Trump et qu’il s’agissait là d’un «message excitant qui doit être livré au Canada également», a-t-elle écrit dans une lettre à ses partisans.

Quant au chef du Nouveau Parti démocratique (NPD) Thomas Mulcair, il n’a pas voulu répéter mercredi les mots qu’il prononçait la semaine dernière, soit que M. Trump «démontrait un comportement fasciste», affirmant néanmoins qu’il n’avait «jamais changé (son) opinion là-dessus.»

En mêlée de presse à Montréal, il a appelé M. Trudeau à se tenir debout devant M. Trump. «Quand vous voyez le type de commentaires sexistes et racistes qui ont été faits pendant la campagne, c’est le genre de chose que vous ne voulez pas au Canada», a fait valoir M. Mulcair.

Quoi, maintenant?

Même si les relations entre les États-Unis et le Canada sont là pour durer, elles seront assurément grandement bouleversées.

Déjà, l’ambassadeur canadien à Washington David MacNaughton a signalé mercredi que le Canada était disposé à rouvrir l’ALÉNA pour «l’améliorer».

«Nous sommes prêts à discuter, a avancé l’ambassadeur en conférence téléphonique. Nous pensons que l’accord tel qu’il est a bénéficié aux trois pays, mais je pense que n’importe quoi peut être amélioré, alors nous sommes ouverts à la discussion.»

Le chercheur Christophe Cloutier-Roy de la chaire Raoul-Dandurand croit d’ailleurs que le commerce risque d’être une pomme de discorde entre les deux gouvernements.

«C’est sûr que le point d’achoppement, ce qui va vraiment être compliqué, c’est toutes les questions relatives au commerce (…), a-t-il noté en entrevue. Mais c’est sûr que la relation d’amitié en tant que telle devrait survivre au passage de M. Trump à la Maison-Blanche.»

Selon l’ancien diplomate Colin Robertson, le commerce n’est pas le seul dossier sur lequel le Canada devra réviser ses positions. En entrevue, il a affirmé que M. Trudeau pourrait y penser deux fois avant d’imposer un prix sur le carbone au pays.

Il s’attend aussi à ce que M. Trump demande au Canada et à l’ensemble de ses alliés d’investir davantage en défense. «Vous pouvez être certains que M. Trump va soulever la question avec M. Trudeau», a-t-il souligné.

Au sud

Le président mexicain, Enrique Peña Nieto, a félicité… les États-Unis pour leurs élections, sans saluer directement la victoire de Donald Trump. M. Peña Nieto a réitéré mercredi sa volonté de collaborer avec M. Trump «au nom des relations bilatérales».

Le secrétaire mexicain au Trésor, Jose Antonio Meade, a précisé que le pays s’était préparé à de tels chocs financiers externes, comme il l’avait fait d’ailleurs pour le Brexit. Il a rappelé que la décision de la Réserve fédérale américaine sur les taux d’intérêt, en décembre prochain, pourrait aussi constituer un nouveau choc pour le Mexique.

M. Meade a indiqué mercredi aux journalistes que le pays n’avait pas l’intention pour l’instant de soutenir le peso, qui a perdu environ 9,5 % de sa valeur.

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Trump Victory

Some of what was said Wednesday in Canada about the U.S. election result

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivers remarks at the WE Day celebration in Ottawa on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016. Trudeau has offered his congratulations to U.S. president-elect Donald Trump. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivers remarks at the WE Day celebration in Ottawa on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016. Trudeau has offered his congratulations to U.S. president-elect Donald Trump. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

OTTAWA — Some of what was said Wednesday about the potential impact on Canada of president-elect Donald Trump:

 

“The relationship between Canada and the United States is based on shared values and shared hopes and dreams and we will always work well together. We are strong because we listen to each other and we respect each other.” — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

___

“Any relationship will change with new incumbents. But our relationship is founded on some pretty fundamental principles, and we’ll work continuously on those fundamental principles and we anticipate that it will go well, as it has with other administrations.” — Gov. Gen. David Johnston.

___

“Canada and the U.S. have been usually pretty resilient in working through difficulties as and when they arise.” — Johnston.

___”The United States is, and will remain, Canada’s closest friend and ally. Our unique relationship has stood the test of nearly 150 years.” — Interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose.

___

“I think when you see the type of racist, sexist comments that were made by Mr. Trump during the campaign, those are things we don’t want here in Canada.” — NDP Leader Tom Mulcair.

___

“If they want to have a discussion about improving NAFTA, then we’re ready to come to the table.” — David MacNaughton, Canadian ambassador to Washington.

__

“We will not be seeing a carbon tax in the U.S. any time soon. It makes no sense for our federal government to push ahead with imposing a national carbon tax, when our biggest trading partner — and our biggest competitor for investment and jobs — is not going to have one.” — Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall.

___

“He’s a deal maker. He wants to know: what do you have to offer?” — Georganne Burke, a former Conservative party staffer and a Trump supporter, speaking of the president-elect.

___

“Mr. Trump campaigned in punchlines and broad strokes but not a lot of detail. Now, the transition team will be working on the detail. We can work on that in the coming month to shape that.” — Colin Robertson, a former Canadian diplomat who has served in the United States.

___

“I think Canada is well-placed, honestly. I don’t think this is the gloom and doom for Canada at all.” — Sarah Goldfeder, a former diplomat with the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa.

What President Donald Trump will mean for Canada

WATCH: Americans voted for Donald Trump to be the president of the United States. What does that mean for Canada?The American electorate has spoken, selecting Donald Trump as their next president.

As the shock waves from Tuesday night’s stunning upset victory reverberate south of the border, Canadian officials are likely already bracing for a very bumpy ride.

WATCH: Trudeau expects ‘respect’ as Canada now prepares to ‘work’ with President-elect Trump

Experts who spoke with Global News last week about what a Trump presidency would mean for Canada agreed on one point: it’s not going to be business as usual.

Here’s a look at what we might expect from Trump in several key policy areas.

Environment

The business mogul-turned political leader has made it clear he will not be the most climate-friendly president ever to take up residence in the White House.

Trump once called climate change a hoax perpetuated by the Chinese, and his promises to pull out of the Paris climate-change agreement and to back coal at the expense of greener energy have environmentalists very worried.

WATCH: Over 80% of Canadians say Hillary Clinton would be better for Canada

“Regulations that shut down hundreds of coal-fired power plants and block the construction of new ones — how stupid is that?” he said during the campaign.

Catherine Potvin, a biology professor and climate change expert at McGill University, said her biggest worry is that Trump will reverse many of the green initiatives launched under President Barack Obama, and that it will have a direct impact on Canada.

“Because the Congress is largely Republican, I think it’s pretty bad news for the climate,” she said.

But businesses (both Canadian and American) are increasingly benefiting from the transition to a low-carbon economy, she added, and the world is moving toward that future with or without American support.

WATCH: President-elect Donald Trump calls for unity in his victory speech

READ MORE: Donald Trump presidency will be ‘very difficult’ for Canada, analyst says

“Under President Trump, I would say it’s going be the businesses that will be driving the transition, and it’s going to be more costly for them because they will not be able to take advantage of government regulation or subsidies.”

But having the U.S. pull out of the Paris agreement at this stage would be catastrophic, according to Debra Steger, a professor and former Canadian negotiator at the World Trade Organization. Not least because the Trudeau government has worked so hard to trumpet it.

“It would be a devastating blow” for Canada, she said.

As for a unified North American agreement on carbon pricing, Canadians shouldn’t hold their breath.

One small patch of common ground might be the Keystone XL pipeline project, however, which Obama recently rejected. Trump has said he’ll approve the pipeline, effectively reversing that decision, but only if America gets a chunk of the profits.

Security and defence

Canada can expect pressure from the White House to increase dramatically under Trump when it comes to international security efforts, said Colin Robertson, a former diplomat and vice-president at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.

“Whether it’s Trump or Clinton, I think they’ll both push us to spend more on defence.” Robertson predicted.

“Right now we don’t meet the NATO standard of (defence spending) commitment by 2020 of two per cent of (Gross Domestic Product).”

WATCH: Trump steps back stance to pull out of NATO

America is devoting a full four per cent of its GDP to defence, something that Robertson said probably isn’t sustainable. Canada is sitting at the bottom of the list of the biggest spenders, he noted.

While Clinton may have been more diplomatic, Trump will demand more spending “in a kind of forceful fashion.”

“Almost, ‘If you don’t pay your dues we’re not going to defend you.’” he said.

“And that has importance obviously for NORAD, which is the bilateral defence agreement we have with the United States, but also in the case of NATO.”

WATCH: NATO chief focused on strong ‘transatlantic bond’ with US following Trump victory

When it comes to the fight against the so-called Islamic State, Trump has promised to “pursue aggressive joint and coalition military operations to crush and destroy ISIS, international cooperation to cutoff (sic) their funding, expand intelligence sharing, and cyberwarfare to disrupt and disable their propaganda and recruiting.”

READ MORE: Donald Trump says Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy plan could trigger World War 3

All of these pledges could mean major pressure on Canada to increase troops and other security resources, as well as renewed pressure from the United States to resume the bombing mission halted by the Liberal government last winter.

Economics and trade

It’s this policy area that has many analysts most concerned.

Trump is blatantly protectionist, which runs contrary to Ottawa’s pro-trade stance under Trudeau. Among other things, the new president has pledged to pull the U.S. out of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

He has also promised to drastically increase tariffs on Chinese goods making their way to America.

“(Canada) wouldn’t be the first target,” Robertson said. “But the danger there is that we become collateral damage because we have so much trade with the United States.”

The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement is almost guaranteed to be consigned to the scrap heap.

WATCH: We have to stop the horror known as Trans-Pacific Partnership, says Trump

“It is highly improbable with Mr. Trump that the TPP would go anywhere, which means we would have to then think about negotiating separate deals with first Japan, and perhaps talking to Mexico,” Robertson said.

Pulling out of NAFTA, meanwhile, would have a very real and significant effect on the Canadian economy. The United States is our largest trading partner, and Steger pointed out that Trump “hasn’t even bothered to ask Prime Minister Trudeau whether he’s willing to renegotiate.”

Steger, an expert in international trade, also questioned the legality of many of Trump’s proposals on trade, noting that they may contravene World Trade Organization regulations.

“What’s he going to do, withdraw from the WTO?” she said.

“This just demonstrates to you the absurdity of some of his positions. It’s just unthinkable for the U.S. to begin to flagrantly violating WTO rules and yet most of the so-called policies that he advocates … you simply can’t do.”

International relations

As much as Trump seems ignorant of how international trade works, Steger said, he seems even less informed about international diplomacy. That could spell big trouble for Canada as it seeks to present a united front with America on issues like Russian aggression in Ukraine, or the ongoing conflict in Syria.

“(Trump will) be a very different kind of person to deal with, and this cuts across all foreign policy issues,” Steger said.

“Basically he doesn’t understand how international relations work, when it comes down to it.”

According to former diplomat Robertson, presidents and prime ministers normally focus heavily on international affairs when they meet, and that may hold true for Trump and Trudeau in spite of their differences.

“(The Americans) are genuinely interested in what we can bring to the table from our diplomatic service abroad, what we pick up in talking to other leaders,” he said.

Canadian election watchers stunned by surprising Trump victory

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump delivers his victory speech to a crowd of supporters in New York.
Vice President-elect Mike Pence speaks at Trump campaign HQ in New York.
The Associated Press is projecting Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump will be elected president of the United States.
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Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, November 8, 2016 6:08AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, November 9, 2016 6:26AM EST

OTTAWA — It wasn’t the party that they were expecting.

Donald Trump’s surprise win in the bitterly fought U.S. election came as a sharp surprise Tuesday to election watchers in Canada, including those gathered in the historic ballroom of a downtown Ottawa hotel.

The U.S. Embassy’s viewing party at Ottawa’s Chateau Laurier hotel started as a festive occasion, but the mood soon turned serious. The cocktail banter of embassy staffers, politicos and invited guests became decidedly muted through the night as big-screen TVs blared live coverage of Trump’s gains in key swing states like Florida, Ohio and Michigan.

The sound was turned up on the television screens and stayed up for much of the evening as Hillary Clinton’s expected victory — some said it would be a landslide — failed to materialize.

One woman covered her mouth and turned away from the screen, while another said, “Oh no!” one U.S.-born guest was overheard telling a friend they might have to reconsider moving back south of the border as planned.

“It appears we’re going to have to still wait a little while to determine who is going to be the next president of the United States,” U.S. ambassador Bruce Heyman told the few dozen embassy staffers, journalists and guests lingering shortly before midnight when the embassy had to pack up their party for the night, hours before Trump’s victory became clear.

“Regardless of who wins this race, the U.S.-Canada relationship will continue to thrive and be very strong,” he said. “I know that we will continue to be the best friends, trading partners and allies as we face this new presidency.”

A Trump presidency would surely have wide-ranging repercussions in Canada, said Laura Dawson, the head of the Canada Institute at Washington’s Wilson Center, citing examples like climate policies, Syrian refugees and trade.

Trump has promised to gut environmental regulations at a time when Canada plans a variety of climate-change policies, including a carbon tax, she noted.

“Canada is going to be left with very, very, very expensive climate policies,” Dawson said. “It will be a disincentive to investment and manufacturing.”

Dawson was less convinced of major changes to trade policy. Other Canadians interviewed have also expressed doubt that his renegotiate-or-scrap threat about NAFTA would arrive at its most potent impact.

A president could rescind a trade deal. But the setting of tariffs belongs to Congress. Furthermore, remnants of the 1987 Canada-U.S. agreement could kick back in. And the private sector, she said, would revolt.

“All of those folks are going to be lined up saying, ‘Are you kidding me? Do you know how much of our livelihood is dependent on open borders and trade between these three countries?”‘ Dawson said.

“There would be huge backlash.”

There’s also the matter of the Keystone XL pipeline — rejected by U.S. President Barack Obama but supported by Trump, and an interesting prospect for a federal Liberal government that needs to get some pipelines built.

On refugees, Canada has thrown open its doors while Trump has appealed to his supporters by pledging to slam them shut — a sentiment that was thrown in sharp relief by a tweet that came from the federal government’s official account just as the Republican candidate appeared to be picking up steam.

“In Canada, immigrants are encouraged to bring their cultural traditions with them and share them with their fellow citizens,” the tweet read, prompting a number of users to suggest it was meant as an intentional jab.

A government official said in an email that the tweet should not be “construed as having anything at all to do with the US election.”

There were also multiple media reports about the website for Citizenship and Immigration Canada crashing at the height of the campaign coverage; the site was indeed slow to load throughout the night, but it was unclear whether excessive traffic from would-be U.S. emigrants was the cause.

Tuesday’s narrow vote count was in many ways a fitting end to the angry and hard-fought presidential battle between Trump, the brash businessman-turned-improbable Republican nominee, and the would-be first female president in U.S. history.

Before Trump’s victory was certain, Heyman predicted a smooth transition regardless of who won.

“Having gone through the day, watching Americans coming out all across the country in record numbers and seeing the large number of votes that were in early, I’m very relaxed,” Heyman said earlier in the evening, before results began coming in.

“One of the things we have to be most proud of is the smooth transitions in our government.”

Retired Lt.-Gen. Charles Bouchard, who commanded the NATO force that backed rebels fighting Libyan President Moammar Gadhafi, called it a historic night that Canadians would be watching closely.

Bouchard knows the U.S. well having served Fort Hood, Texas military base on an exchange at NORAD in Colorado Springs and other U.S. postings during his Canadian military career.

“We wish them the best and we wish them a peaceful transition,” he said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office said it would have no comment until a winner was declared. Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna both came and went from the party without talking to reporters.

Fen Hampson, the head of the global security program at the Centre for International Governance Innovation in Waterloo, Ont., said Trump’s success was reminiscent of the “Berlusconi effect,” a reference to the former Italian leader Sylvio Berlusconi.

“Nobody said they supported him but he kept getting elected,” said Hampson.

One Canadian official, who was not authorized to discuss the election publicly and so spoke on condition of anonymity, said Tuesday that should Trump manage to pull out a victory, Canadians can take some measure of comfort in the fact Trump apparently has a lot of respect for Justin Trudeau and his international celebrity status, added the official, who has spoken to the Trump campaign about the prime minister.

“They think he’s a showman…. They respect his success.”

It helps matters that Trudeau has steadfastly refused to get drawn into the acrimony south of the border.

“You’ve noticed how careful our prime minister has been,” the official said. “I think that was smart… You don’t ever know.”

Dawson said one of the biggest headlines for Canadians in the event of a Trump win — renegotiating or tearing up the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA — would in all likelihood never come to pass.

“All of those (companies) are going to be lined up saying, ‘Are you kidding me? Do you know how much of our livelihood is dependent on open borders and trade between these three countries?’ she said.

“If you were to impose a 30 per cent tariff on Mexico, the economic impact would be immediate, swift and would represent even more job losses for the United States.”

Colin Robertson, a retired Canadian diplomat who served in the U.S. said a Clinton victory would have been better for Canada because it would ensure a level of continuity from Obama’s two terms.

“We’ve already got a reset relationship starting in March, confirmed at the end of June when the president came up here.”

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China Trade Talks

 

In trade talks with China, Canada must have a negotiating position

COLIN ROBERTSON The Globe and Mail Wednesday, Aug. 03, 2016

With Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s official visit to China a month away, Canadian policy toward the Middle Kingdom is under review. Closer relations will serve Canadian interests, mindful that when dealing with China, the game is long and often tortuous.

The Chinese want a free-trade deal and their objectives are clear: improved access to our energy and agri-food resources and a more relaxed regime for Chinese investment, especially state-owned enterprises.

But what are our objectives?

Recent studies – notably those by Wendy Dobson and Paul Evans, and Laura Dawson and Dan Ciuriak – point out the potential benefits of a free-trade agreement (FTA), and the Canadian business community has been mostly encouraging.

But now we need negotiating positions.

The Harper government’s complementarities studies are now four years old and there is little evidence the Track II dialogue around a maritime energy corridor made any progress. The Trudeau government ruminates about joining the China-inspired Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank but shouldn’t this fit into our larger strategy?

A good starting position should be the recently negotiated Trans-Pacific Partnership and the standards it sets for investment, intellectual property and services, as well as environment and labour.

Launching an FTA with China will startle American policymakers who take for granted the Canadian energy that underwrites their “energy independence.” Getting more of our oil and gas to Pacific tidewater will get us a better price as well as leverage in dealing with resurgent American protectionism.

Talks with China should encourage Japan to resume the nascent Canada-Japan economic partnership negotiations, set aside in favour of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The TPP is now at risk of becoming a victim to U.S. protectionism.

The Chinese are tough negotiators. As a rising great power they confidently believe they hold the upper hand. They are skilled in playing off Western impatience. For China a tentative “deal” is often just the starting point for serious negotiations.

The Chinese are also masters at “hardball.” The recent public dressing-down of a Canadian journalist, by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, for her “prejudice” and “arrogance,” is right out of the Chinese playbook on forcing “foreign devils” to kowtow to them. During his 2009 visit to Beijing, Prime Minister Stephen Harper had to endure the public scolding of Premier Wen Jiabao for taking too long to visit China.

Recent Chinese behaviour – that of their Foreign Minister as well as their rejection of the recent international tribunal ruling on the South China Sea – deserves a response.

Prime Minister Trudeau can underline his credentials as a G7/20 leader by speaking before a Chinese audience to the responsibilities of all nations, including China, to the rules, norms and institutions of the liberal international order. Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion, blindsided by Wang Yi in Ottawa, should speak to Chinese students about human rights, press freedom and the rule of law.

Tougher, necessary and behind-closed-doors conversations should also be held around ongoing Chinese cyberespionage and cybertheft aimed at our institutions and on efforts to influence our elected officials. There should be a discussion of Hong Kong as well as the consular case of Kevin Garratt, the Canadian missionary indicted by China for espionage.

Much easier will be the discussions around enhancing our people-to-people ties.

The Harper government achieved “approved destination status” for Chinese travellers. They are now our third-largest tourist source. There are more than 100,000 Chinese students in Canada. Representing one-third of our foreign students, they inject over $2-billion annually into our economy. Recent Chinese immigration has also increased their numbers to over 500,000, the second-largest foreign-born group in Canada. These ever-expanding family ties are an advantage, especially given the overseas Chinese business networks.

Pierre Trudeau once remarked that “Canada has a ringside seat on the Pacific.” But our engagement has been episodic and lacking in sustained strategic direction. We were late, often reluctant, participants in the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Our investment in regional security is minimal. The people flow requires more effective marketing. It’s time to get into the ring, and China is the place to start.

In negotiating with China the Trudeau government needs to be disciplined, focused and patient. Nor should we ever forget that as negotiators the Chinese are more dragon than panda.

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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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Three Amigos Summit

Justin Trudeau rolling out the Liberal red carpet for Mexico and U.S. presidents

Barack Obama will address Parliament, Enrique Pena Nieto gets state dinner with Mexican art

By Chris Hall, CBC News Posted: May 05, 2016 5:00 AM ETLast Updated: May 05, 2016 12:28 PM ET

U.S. President Barack Obama and Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto, left, will attend the so-called Three Amigos summit with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa at the end of June.

U.S. President Barack Obama and Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto, left, will attend the so-called Three Amigos summit with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Ottawa at the end of June. (Susan Walsh/Associated Press)

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Justin Trudeau came to office promising to restore Canada’s relations with its North American neighbours. If dinner and speaking invitations are your measure well, then he’s off to a great start.

Trudeau will play host in the final week of June to U.S. President Barack Obama and Mexico’s Enrique Pena Nieto at the first gathering of the so-called Three Amigos to be held in Canada in nearly a decade.

This shouldn’t be a big deal. It’s Canada’s turn after all.

But the leaders were supposed to have gathered here last year. Instead, former prime minister Stephen Harper postponed the summit amid disputes with the U.S. over the now-rejected Keystone XL pipeline, and with Mexico over his government’s decision to require all Mexicans to have a visa to travel to Canada.

Harper knew there was no recipe for success if the summit went ahead.

Pena Nieto, in particular, already cancelled a 2015 visit with a delegation of business leaders in protest against the visa requirement. It was unlikely he would even have come if invited. But he is now, in large part because Trudeau has promised to lift the requirement.

Dinner and a speech

And the summit isn’t really the main political event when the three leaders arrive in Ottawa next month.

The prime minister has also invited Obama to address Parliament, an invitation he extended when the president feted him in Washington two months ago.

And, not to play favorites, Pena Nieto will be in Ottawa ahead of the summit for a state visit of his own. It includes a formal dinner hosted by the prime minister at the National Gallery of Canada where a special exhibit of Mexican art is planned.

So. A summit. An address to Parliament. A gala dinner.  Amigos de nuevo. Friends again. Even if friendship only goes so far in politics.

‘Dirty words’

The real measure of the relationship, as always, is what gets done.

“I think they need to make a new commitment to North America,”  Laura Dawson, director of the Canada Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Centre in Washington, DC, said Wednesday on the podcast edition of CBC Radio’s The House.

“If you listen to any of the U.S. election coverage right now: North American trade. Immigration. Canada. Mexico. These are all dirty words in the campaign.”

Just listen to Donald Trump. He’ll build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, and make the Mexicans pay for it if elected president. He’ll rip up NAFTA.

It’s the kind of rhetoric that grabs headlines and dominates political talk shows. Breaking through with discussions of harmonizing regulations or reducing trade barriers are hardly the tools to do it.

Midweek pod: return of the Three Amigos

25:58

A legacy address

“Trump is going to be the elephant in the room,” says former Canadian diplomat Colin Robertson.

“Part of what this exercise is going to be about at the end of June, is to shore up and provide insulation for both the Canadians and Mexicans against what might come, and to take full advantage of Obama’s desire for a legacy which includes North America.”

Obama US Canada

U.S. President Barack Obama, left, and Prime Minister Justin shake hands following the conclusion of a joint news conference March 10 at the White House. The two leaders asked officials to report back within 100 days on how to address the softwood lumber issue. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press)

Obama, no doubt, will say all the right things in his Parliamentary address about Trudeau’s shared commitment to address climate change. He’ll pledge to continue to work cooperatively on border security and harmonizing government regulations. But there’s no escaping that his time in office is rapidly running out. His ability to get any new initiatives through Congress, may already have.

For example, softwood lumber. Obama and Trudeau gave their senior trade officials until June 12 to work out a way to prevent another trade war over softwood lumber. Sources say a solution is unlikely.

Ditto on efforts to update NAFTA to reflect new trading realities.

Mexican travellers looking for reprieve

Trudeau takes a sunnier view.

“One of the things any U.S. president and Canadian PM will always agree on is the need to create economic growth and prosperity for our citizens,” he told reporters on Wednesday. “We all know that trade is an important part of creating that.”

Fair enough, but both Robertson and Dawson believe the real opportunities in June rest with Mexico, at least in the short-term as Americans choose a new president.

The first step is to address the visa requirement imposed in 2009 by the Harper government after a spike in refugee claimants arriving from Mexico.

That will take time. As an interim, Dawson expects Canada to accept Mexican travellers who hold a U.S. visa, and for Canada to include Mexico among the first countries to qualify for the Electronic Travel Authorization introduced in March for visa-exempt travellers arriving in Canada.

But Robertson says there’s much more that can be done without the U.S..

“We should go and recruit 500,000 Mexican students to Canadian universities. Mexico has a middle-class population of 40 million. They’ve got students looking for places. Why not bring them to Canada? We’ve got university capacity. That would make a profound difference in the Canada/Mexico relationship.”

It’s one of a number of measures where progress can be made in the North American relationship, especially when the biggest of the Three Amigos is pre-occupied at home.

Wednesday May 04, 2016

Return of the Three Amigo

Then, after more than two and a half years, the leaders of Canada, the U.S. and Mexico will convene next month in Ottawa for a summit.

So what does the return of the Three Amigos mean for the state of the North American relationship?

“It’s tremendously significant,” says Laura Dawson, director of the Canada Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington.

“I think this is a new commitment from Canada to the whole North American project.”

Former Canadian diplomat Colin Robertson agrees, telling Chris Hall the upcoming summit is a signal that Canada is back in the game in North America.

“We’ve been a dog in the manger on the North American side — it’s been really Mexico and the United States, and we’ve been sor tof an unwilling partner,” Robertson says.

“Certainly the Mexicans see in Mr. Trudeau someone who understands the broad concept of the Americas, but now we have to deliver and that’s what [the meeting] is all about.”

Both Dawson and Robertson share their insights into the trilateral relationship and their hopes for what the summit will achieve, including a North American climate framework and a boost to Canada-Mexico relations — no matter who occupies the Oval Office after the U.S. presidential election.

“We need to encourage Canada and Mexico to align together on many, many more issues,” Dawson says. “Canada and Mexico have not had a united front. Canadians and Mexicans need to speak much more about what their common objectives are in North America.”

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Trudeau Obama Summit

Discussing the potential agenda of the Trudeau-Obama White House meeting on Question Period with Laura Dawson, John Manley and host Robert Fife.

http://www.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=823007

Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 6.17.43 PM

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China Free Trade Deal

CTV QP: A glitzy start to Canada-U.S. relations

 

A panel of Canada-U.S. relations experts discuss affairs with our neighbours to the south, the TPP and a Canada-China free-trade deal.Michelle Zilio, CTVNews.ca
Published Sunday, January 10, 2016 10:08AM EST

A Canada-China free-trade deal could bring “billions and billions of dollars” to the sagging Canadian economy each year, according to an expert on the subject matter.

Laura Dawson, director of the Canada Institute at the Wilson Center in Washington, recently co-authored a study on a Canada-China free-trade agreement. The study will be released next week. Canada is not currently engaged in free-trade negotiations with China, according to Global Affairs Canada. However, a Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) is in place between China and Canada, which is aimed at protecting and promoting foreign investment through legally-binding rights and obligations.

Speaking to CTV’s Question Period, Dawson said her research shows that Canada stands to benefit greatly if the two countries were to reach a deal.

“I am astonished by the benefits that Canada could derive from this kind of agreement. Billions and billions of dollars every year.”

According to Dawson and Canadian Global Affairs Institute Vice-President Colin Robertson, many sectors of the Canadian economy would profit from the diversification that would come with a Canada-China free-trade deal, including:

• Agri-food, such as pork and canola

• Lumber

• Insurance: “There are a number of Canadian insurance companies over there. We sell an awful lot,” Robertson told Question Period.

Dawson also said there is no need to worry about the effects of a free-trade deal with China on Canada’s relationship with its closest partner — the U.S.

“The United States already has a high level economic dialogue and framework with China. It’s working quite well, ” said Dawson. “It’s way ahead of the level of cooperation that Canada and China have so I don’t think that we would put ourselves in an antagonistic position vis-à-vis the United States.”

The Liberal government has emphasized the need for Canada to connect with growing markets in the global economy, especially amidst a bleak economy at home. More specifically, International Trade Minister Chyrstia Freeland told CTV’s Question Period this week that China and India are priorities for her file.

“These are two huge, growing markets, areas, where at a time the global economy is not growing as quickly as we would like, we’re still seeing tremendous economic growth.”

Freeland’s comments come as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government prepares for a major trade mission to China and India. Trudeau is likely to travel to the two countries in March after bilateral meetings with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington, according to a report by the Globe and Mail last week. The trip is part of a longer-term goal of reaching a free-trade deal with China, said the report.

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Canada USA Relations: Climate and Defence

CTV Question Period on Canada US relations under PM designate Justin Trudeau with Michael Kergin, Laura Dawson and CTV host Bob Fife

http://www.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=734607

Screen Shot 2015-10-25 at 12.57.13 PM

 

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North American Regional Cooperation

Time to take North American regional co-operation seriously

Colin Robertson The Globe and Mail Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015

Are we overlooking the potential of North America? Looking across our oceans for new markets makes good sense. But as the still-to-be-implemented Canada-European Union deal and the still-to-be-negotiated Trans Pacific Partnership illustrate, getting there is easier said than done.

Later this week, the North American Forum meets in Toronto, armed with a series of recent reports underlining the opportunities within North America. Their analysis and collective recommendations help set the table for the North American Leaders’ summit that Canada will host after our election this fall.

Before the dissolution of Parliament, Canada’s Senate and House Foreign Affairs committees released studies arguing that, while NAFTA worked, we now need a new regime to manage our growing economic integration.

North American supply chains, now continental in scope, serve a market of 465 million people. Innovation has given us extraordinary energy advantages. We need to focus on improving the arteries of transportation, especially at border choke points. A restructured North American Development Bank could finance new infrastructure. We must do a better job of linking training to required skills and then improving continental labour mobility.

National governments need to lead. They can create the trilateral integrative frameworks for action. There is plenty of creativity and useful experimentation on issues like climate change by states and provinces.

Both parliamentary reports argue for more attention to border barriers and regulatory convergence. The public favours trade liberalization, but governments and legislators need to demystify and better explain their trade agendas.

The Senate report recommends more Canadian diplomatic offices in the U.S., recognizing that trade and politics “is local.” We need regular meetings between the three countries’ parliamentarians to trouble-shoot problems. The House report wants our regulators to harmonize standards.

Building on the recent U.S. Council on Foreign Relations report that he co-authored, former general David Petraeus argues that North America is the “next great emerging market.” Gen. Petreaus’s Belfer Center report says the “synergistic” catalysts to lift the three economies are dynamism in energy, advanced manufacturing, and life sciences and information technology.

Our continental advantages, Gen. Petraeus says, include Canada’s banking system and resilient oil and gas sector. The U.S. continues to breed innovation and entrepreneurialism, with agile capital markets and small firms adept at applying new technologies. With its young and skilled workforce, Mexico is becoming a manufacturing hub.

Each of these reports point to the remarkable economic transformation taking place in Mexico. Mexico is becoming a majority middle class nation.

Mexico still faces challenges from the drug cartels and corruption. Resolution will take time and effort, starting with policing and judicial reform at the state level. But the reforms to labour, education and energy are real. Mexico’s growing middle class is already bigger than the entire Canadian population. By 2050, Mexico is projected to be amongst the globe’s top five economies. The Senate report argues Canada requires a comprehensive Mexico strategy that prioritizes educational exchanges.

A useful study by Laura Dawson looks at the Canada-Mexico relationship. Dr. Dawson, who now directs the Washington-based Wilson Center’s Canada program, contends that supply chain dynamics – notably autos and aviation – as well as investments in banking and mining, provide a solid foundation for closer Canada-Mexico relations.

In a recent major policy speech on North America, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau recognized that managing the U.S. relationship is a prime ministerial priority. He promised to resurrect a cabinet committee focusing on the U.S., expand our diplomatic footprint within the U.S. and put renewed emphasis on easing the cross-border flow of people and goods.

Mr. Trudeau also promised to lift the Mexican visa requirement imposed in 2009. A poor decision, badly executed and later compounded by gratuitous comments, it unnecessarily irritated our third-largest trading partner. It has cost Canada in potential commerce and investment.

Conservative Leader Stephen Harper and NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair should speak on how they would manage continental integration and our relations with the United States and Mexico.

This fall’s North American Leaders’ summit must be more than just a photo opportunity. As the Senate report concluded: “While it is critical that Canada take steps to seize … opportunities wherever they exist, we must also remain actively engaged – commercially, politically and interpersonally – in our immediate neighbourhood.”

Within North America, we have an opportunity to develop a new model of working together – less bureaucratic and centralized than that of the European Union. It would respect national sovereignty, preserve each country’s monetary and fiscal independence, and recognize that the states and provinces are more likely to find pragmatic solutions to our issues and irritants.

Remember that old Tin Pan Alley tune: “I’m looking over a four-leaf clover that I overlooked before.” Well, it’s time to look anew at North America.

 

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