NAFTA After Round IV

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Farmscape for October 23, 2017

The Vice-President of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute says a planned one month break in negotiations aimed at modernizing NAFTA will allow interests in the United States that favor maintaining the agreement time to make their point.
After negotiations aimed at revamping the North American Free Trade Agreement hit an impasse, negotiators have decided to delay the start of Round 5 and extend the timeline for completing the talks.
Colin Robertson, the Vice-President and a Fellow of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, says, from a Canadian and Mexican perspective, the feeling is that unless the Trump administration is prepared to show some flexibility an agreement not likely to be reached.

Clip-Colin Robertson-Canadian Global Affairs Institute:
Canada and Mexico on their own will not be able to sway the administration.
What swayed the administration on Day 100 was particularly pushback from the farm community who said, “no, this NAFTA is working for them”.
In fact, I think time is probably useful.
A Canadian expression, “we rag the puck for awhile,” because this will give time for those who favor a renegotiated but not arbitrary North American Free Trade Agreement time to make their voices heard in the United States.
Many of them of course are people who voted for Trump within the business community, within the farm community and within the auto manufacturing community.
Our sense now is that the business community, through the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, through the Business Roundtable, through the National Association of Manufacturers, through the Automakers, the Farm Bureau and others are now going to push back and start to explain why the NAFTA has worked for the United States.

Robertson says there’s a sense that the Trump administration is not terribly interested in having an agreement and at some point, rescind NAFTA.
However, he observes, if the broader community who favors freer trade makes their voices heard, that may persuade the administration to temper its demands and work things out.
For Farmscape.Ca, I’m Bruce Cochrane.

       *Farmscape is a presentation of Sask Pork and Manitoba Pork

Interview  20:41

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Delayed Resumption of Re-negotiations Expected to Favour US NAFTA Supporters

23 October 2017

Manitoba Pork Council

Farm-Scape is sponsored by
Manitoba Pork Council and Sask Pork

FarmScape is a Wonderworks Canada production and is distributed courtesy of Manitoba Pork Council
and Sask Pork.

CANADA & US – The Vice-President of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute says a planned one month break in negotiations aimed at modernizing NAFTA will allow interests in the United States that favor maintaining the agreement time to make their point, Bruce Cochrane reports.

After negotiations aimed at revamping the North American Free Trade Agreement hit an impasse, negotiators have decided to delay the start of Round 5 and extend the timeline for completing the talks.

Colin Robertson, the Vice-President and a Fellow of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, says, from a Canadian and Mexican perspective, the feeling is that unless the Trump administration is prepared to show some flexibility an agreement not likely to be reached.

Colin Robertson-Canadian Global Affairs Institute

Canada and Mexico on their own will not be able to sway the administration.

What swayed the administration on Day 100 was particularly pushback from the farm community who said, “no, this NAFTA is working for them”.

In fact, I think time is probably useful.

A Canadian expression, “we rag the puck for awhile,” because this will give time for those who favor a renegotiated but not arbitrary North American Free Trade Agreement time to make their voices heard in the United States.

Many of them of course are people who voted for Trump within the business community, within the farm community and within the auto manufacturing community.

Our sense now is that the business community, through the US Chamber of Commerce, through the Business Roundtable, through the National Association of Manufacturers, through the Automakers, the Farm Bureau and others are now going to push back and start to explain why the NAFTA has worked for the United States.

Mr Robertson says there’s a sense that the Trump administration is not terribly interested in having an agreement and at some point, rescind NAFTA.

However, he observes, if the broader community who favors freer trade makes their voices heard, that may persuade the administration to temper its demands and work things out.

ThePoultrySite News Desk

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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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Congressional visits to Canada…few

U.S. foreign relations scorecard: Burkina Faso: 2 Canada: 0

Washington politicians weren’t inclined to venture north of border last year

By Ian MacLeod, OTTAWA CITIZEN February 15, 2014
U.S. foreign relations scorecard: Burkina Faso: 2 Canada: 0

U.S. Sen. John McCain was among a small group of American politicians who came to Canada last year — Halifax, in particular — but it wasn’t for official government business.

Photograph by: THE CANADIAN PRESS , CP

OTTAWA — We’re the world’s largest trading partners, with the world’s longest border, a common heritage, an extensive security and military alliance and neighbours for more than two centuries.

So, guess how many times elected politicians from Washington visited Canada on bilateral, government-to-government business last year?

Zip. Zero. Nada. Rien.

Not that those working on Capitol Hill don’t like to travel. U.S. senators and congressmen are world-class globetrotters, according to congressional records.

Even Burkina Faso, the diminutive and destitute western Africa nation, saw two U.S. congressional delegations arrive last year.

Yet the Americans seem to have cold feet when it comes to our fair land.

The 2013 foreign travel financial reports for the Senate and House of Representatives show not a single member of Congress ventured north of our shared border on official U.S.-Canada business.

“This is, unfortunately, illustrative of congressional and administration attention to Canada. They take us for granted and think they know all they need to know about Canada,” says Colin Robertson, a former Canadian diplomat and vice-president and fellow at the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute.

Canadian politicians, he adds, are good at legislative exchanges at the state level, “but terrible in working Congress.”

A U.S. delegation of four senators and one congressman did travel to Nova Scotia in November for the Halifax International Security Forum. But that was to address global security issues with 300 other delegates from 50 nations. (Even the name is a bit misleading. The Halifax International Security Forum is actually a non-profit, non-partisan organization based in Washington, D.C.)

It’s doubtful the likes of delegation leader Sen. John McCain would have buttonholed then-defence minister Peter MacKay or Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird to discuss the Keystone XL pipeline, or a new Windsor-Detroit bridge or other issues languishing in the Ottawa-Washington relationship.

The post of U.S. ambassador to Canada has also been vacant for six months now, awaiting Senate confirmation of nominee Bruce Heyman.

To be fair, for the day or so they were in Halifax, the U.S. lawmakers did contribute $5,086.77 US to the Canada-U.S. economic partnership for hotels, food, taxis and tips.

One was Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger. He represents the 16th Congressional District of Illinois, which includes the city of Ottawa, county seat for LaSalle County. (Ottawa was the site of the first of the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858 and where William Dickson Boyce incorporated the Boy Scouts of America in 1910.)

But, perhaps fittingly, Kinzinger’s office ignored repeated requests from the Citizen here in Ottawa, Canada this week to comment for this story.

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On Public Diploamcy at our Washington Embassy

War of 1812 commemorations, Strange Brew screening among Washington Embassy’s activities last year

by Lee Berthiaume Postmedia, August 8, 2013

OTTAWA — Canada’s embassy in Washington hosted a half-dozen visits to the oilsands last year, inviting not just congressmen and their staff, but U.S. Department of Energy officials, think-tank experts and even journalists.

Yet as important as those visits were to promoting the oilsands and the Keystone XL pipeline, they represented only a fraction of the embassy’s activities when it came to promoting Canada — and advancing the federal government’s agenda.

Newly released records show the embassy sponsored a congressional visit to Alberta during the Calgary Stampede, fitness sessions featuring the creator of the popular P90X exercise program, and even a screening of the movie Strange Brew, complete with Tim Horton’s donuts and Canadian beer.

There were also nearly half-a-dozen events promoting the War of 1812, including an art show and a lecture by a prominent military historian and adviser to former U.S. secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, who says Canada won the conflict.

The oilsands tours were the most expensive activities undertaken by the embassy at a cost of between $20,000 and more than $90,000 each.

The rest of the initiatives were relatively small, with the majority costing less than $10,000, with the embassy seeking partnerships where it could.

The documents, obtained by Ottawa-based researcher Ken Rubin, do not give a clear total of how much the embassy spent on advocacy last year, though one planning estimate puts the number between $500,000 and $800,000.

Former diplomat Colin Robertson, who served much of his career in the United States, says the federal government actually used to spend much more on these types of activities, which together are called public diplomacy.

And while some Canadian taxpayers may be upset that the embassy hosted a “tailgating party” during U.S. President Barack Obama’s inauguration, or that congressmen took in the Stampede on their dime, Robertson says these things do work.

“My own observation is that these things do have effect, even if it is very difficult with an individual event to say A, B and C happened,” he said. “This is all subtle and you don’t move by great leaps but by inches.”

Using the War of 1812 to advance Canada’s interests might seem a curious choice, but Robertson noted the military is a key part of the American culture and that one in five members of Congress has military experience.

According to the documents, the subtext of the War of 1812 events was to highlight the 200 years of peaceful co-existence between Canada and the U.S., while highlighting Canada as an important friend and ally in North American and global security.

It was the same message Canadian diplomats hoped to convey when the embassy hosted a reception in honour of the Devil’s Brigade, a group of Canadian and American elite commandos who served together in the Second World War.

Similarly, the embassy “disguised an intense fitness workout” featuring P90X creator Tony Horton last September to highlight the strength and readiness of Canada’s military, according to the documents.

“Sprinkled throughout will be a strong visual of Canada’s military men and women who are dedicated to physical and mental well-being. There will be reminders of our evolving role in Afghanistan and our partnerships with other countries to engage in hot spots worldwide.”

The embassy also donated several P90X workout videos to the Washington, D.C., school system, which officials said would reinforce the priorities of both governments, namely Michelle Obama’s exercise campaign and Health Canada’s fight against child obesity.

The total cost of the event was $1,500.

The vast trading relationship between Canada and the United States, as well as the integrated nature of the two countries’ economies, also featured prominently in the diplomatic events.

This included VIP receptions held to mark the opening of an exhibit on Canada’s 50 years in space as well as visits by the National Ballet of Canada and Cirque du Soleil, all of which were seen as an opportunity for Canadian diplomats to talk trade.

Trade was also the impetus behind the Stampede visit, which also included a tour of beef and cattle operations in a bid to eliminate a new rule that would require Canadian beef and other agricultural products to be labelled.

That tour cost $28,852, though the number of participants was not indicated.

Canadian Taxpayer Federation president Gregory Thomas said he would like to see a line-by-line tally for the events to ensure “they weren’t doing the job in a way that was lavish or unseemly and makes you want to shake your head.”

But he also said selling Canada is an essential objective for the federal government and Canadian diplomats, and that he supports activities that go towards meeting that goal.

“When you see the way Canadian industries like the oilsands are misrepresented on the world stage,” Thomas said, “obviously Canadians have to push back against that kind of thing and our diplomats abroad have a tough job.”

A number of other countries, including France, Germany, the United Kingdom and even China have dedicated agencies devoted to public diplomacy efforts.

Former Canadian diplomat Daryl Copeland, who has written a book on new ways of doing diplomacy, said Canada used to be a leader when it came to public diplomacy but has fallen behind the pack under the Conservative government.

Some Canadian diplomats have also quietly complained that the government is muzzling them when they are working abroad, which Copeland said undercuts the potential benefits of activities that are undertaken by embassies.

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