NATO Brussels Summit

A Primer to the Brussels NATO Summit

by Colin Robertson
CGAI Vice President and Fellow
May, 2017

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Table of Contents


Executive Summary

On May 25-26, NATO leaders will meet in Brussels. This will be the first multilateral forum in which President Donald Trump will be in attendance, and where much of the focus will be following his varied comments on NATO. From its original 12 members, NATO now stands at 28, including many former Warsaw Pact nations, and has operated in Afghanistan, performed anti-piracy missions, and taken part in humanitarian operations as well.

Despite these successes, President Trump, both as a candidate and since, has called on the Alliance members to increase their share of the burden, symbolized to him by the two percent goal. There are six big-ticket items which will be discussed at the summit:

  1. NATO readiness to reinforce collective defence, including investing in capabilities;
  2. Defence spending;
  3. Relations with Russia;
  4. Deepening partnerships and maintaining NATO’s open door policy;
  5. Afghanistan; and
  6. ISIS and Terrorism.

It is expected that President Trump will again forcefully push for all members to meet the 2 percent of GDP spending on defence commitment. In return the other leaders will expect a clear commitment to collective defence. As leaders meet, new Pew Foundation survey numbers reveal strong support among the populations of NATO member countries for both the Alliance itself and, more importantly, collective self-defence.

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Introduction

Presidents and prime ministers will meet in Brussels on Wednesday and Thursday (May 24-5, 2017) in a summit meeting of the 28 partner nations. The focus will be on U.S. President Donald Trump, appearing in his first formal multilateral forum. It will also be the first meeting for France’s new president, Emmanuel Macron.

The conference takes place against a complicated backdrop; upcoming elections in the United Kingdom and Germany, the recent elections in France and the Netherlands, the Brexit negotiations, the ongoing campaign against ISIS, turmoil in Syria, questions about Afghanistan, the continuing migration from the Middle East and North Africa, the latest Greek bailout, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s authoritarianism in the wake of the recent constitutional referendum, the continuing Russian occupation of parts of Ukraine and improved Russian military capacity, Chinese elbowing in on the South China Seas, North Korean nuclear and missile testing, increasing cyber-attacks, including those that shut down parts of Britain’s health services and a new terrorist incident at a concert in Manchester.

NATO leaders will dedicate and then meet in the organization’s new, multi-billion euro headquarters. A section of the World Trade Center – The 9/11 and Article 5 Memorial – the only time in its history that NATO invoked Article 5, the mutual defense clause, will be unveiled by President Trump. A section of the Berlin Wall, underlining how NATO kept the peace during the Cold War, will be dedicated by Chancellor Angela Merkel. Critics say the new headquarters also reflects the challenges confronting the Alliance: it is behind schedule and over-budget.

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What is NATO?

NATO is a military and political alliance constructed around the principles of collective security, democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law. It has 28 members including Canada, the United States and most European nations, as well as a host of Euro-Atlantic partner nations. NATO represents half of the world’s economic and military power. As Secretary General Stollenberg observes, “no other superpower has ever had such a strategic advantage.”

In the wake of the Second World War, the victors set up a series of international institutions. The foremost was the United Nations, with universal membership designed to advance human progress and prevent the “scourge of war”. Responding to what Winston Churchill described as the “iron curtain” descending “From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic,” the western alliance set up a collective security agreement called the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

In the words of its first secretary general, Lord Ismay, NATO was to “keep the Russians out, the Germans down, and the Americans in.” A collective security agreement, an attack on one would be considered an attack on all, enshrined in Article 5. NATO was also designed, at Canadian insistence, to have an economic dimension to promote trade, investment, and commerce between the members (Article 2).

The agreement was signed in Washington on April 2, 1949. Its original membership included twelve countries – the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Denmark, Iceland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. In signing the agreement Canadian External Affairs Minister Lester Pearson said that Canadians “feel deeply and instinctively” that the treaty is “a pledge for peace and progress”.

The Alliance expanded: Turkey and Greece joined in 1952, West Germany in 1955 and Spain in 1982. France left the military alliance in 1967 but rejoined in 2009. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989, NATO membership is now 28 countries – most of the former Warsaw Pact countries, including the Balkan states created with the dissolution of Yugoslavia (Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia). Montenegro will join when its membership is ratified by all member countries and Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina are on NATO’s membership action plans, a kind of waiting-room for membership. Georgia and Ukraine have declared an interest in joining NATO and at the Bucharest summit (2008) NATO said the door was open although, since 2010, Ukraine has not formally pursued membership.

NATO is headquartered in Brussels, where former Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg leads its Secretariat with Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller, a former U.S. Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security NATO military operations are headed by two commanders: Supreme Allied Commander, Europe (SACEUR) based in Brussels is currently U.S. General Curtis Scaparrotti; and Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (SACT), based in Norfolk, Virginia, is currently French General Denis Mercier.

Member nations are represented in both the NATO council and military committee and legislators meet annually in the NATO parliamentary assembly. A Canadian has never held the post of Secretary General but Canadian General Ray Henault, a former Chief of Defense Staff, served as Chairman of the Military Committee from 2005-2008.

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What has NATO done?

NATO has three core tasks: collective defence, crisis management and cooperative security.

For its first 40 years NATO’s purpose was to deter Soviet aggression. Today, arguably, it is to deter Russian aggression. Canadian troops were stationed in Europe, mostly in Germany.

With the end of the Cold War, NATO shifted to help the former Soviet-bloc countries embrace democracy and the market economy.

Since 1989, NATO has also become involved in a series of out-of-theatre missions. Over 150,000 troops served under NATO command in six different operations on three continents, including counter-piracy operation in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean.

NATO forces were involved in bringing peace to the Balkans (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo), operations that continues today. NATO forces, under the umbrella of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), have been present in Afghanistan since 2003. There have been operations around Iraq (1990-1) and a training mission (2004-11). In 2005, NATO assisted in the relief efforts following the Pakistan earthquake. In recent years, NATO has also provided support to African Union peacekeeping missions in the Sudan and Somalia. NATO led the U.N.-sanctioned Libyan campaign (Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR in 2011), maintaining a no-fly zone and conducting air strikes against the Gaddafi regime. Canadian Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard directed that air campaign.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2014 presented NATO with a renewed challenge, while events on its southern flank – in North Africa and the Middle East – require ongoing attention.

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President Trump and NATO

All eyes at the summit will be on President Trump, who arrives as part of his first official trip abroad, which also took him to Saudi Arabia, Israel, the Vatican, and finally Brussels.

NATO leaders usually meet in the aftermath of the election of a new American president, as it is the U.S. that provides the muscle for the organization. During the 2016 presidential election campaign, Mr. Trump called NATO “obsolete”, warned the Allies that they would have to carry more of the load, and praised Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Since his election his statements on NATO have reflected a more traditional U.S. stance. During his meeting in April with U.N. Secretary General Jens Stollenberg, President Trump re-affirmed U.S. support for NATO saying the Alliance was “no longer obsolete” but declared that “NATO members meet their financial obligations and pay what they owe.”

Vice President Mike Pence and the senior security and defence team all support NATO. National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, Defence Secretary James Mattis, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly – all served as generals in the U.S. Forces. His Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, was CEO of Exxon. Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, his ambassador to the United Nations, has been vocal in her criticism of Russia.

At the Munich Security Conference in February, Vice President Pence said “the United States of America strongly supports NATO and will be unwavering in our commitment to this trans-Atlantic alliance”. He also reiterated Mr. Trump’s message that the Allies need to pay their “fair share…That pledge has gone unfulfilled for too many for too long and erodes the very foundation of our alliance.”

The U.S. effort leading to the Brussels summit was handicapped by the lack of senior personnel in the U.S. Administration. Many posts at the National Security Council, Pentagon, State Department, as well as ambassadors, including to NATO and most of its member nations, have yet to be named, let alone confirmed by the Senate.

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Big Ticket Items

1. NATO readiness to reinforce collective defence, including investing in capabilities

The Russian invasion of Ukraine and intervention in Syria have underlined the need for NATO readiness, including a rapid, combat-ready expeditionary force with attention to cyber defence and maritime security. As NATO scholar Julian Lindley-French and Admiral (ret’d) James Stavridis, former SACEUR, have argued “Article 5 collective defence must be modernised and re-organised around cyber-defence, missile defence and the advanced deployable forces vital to contemporary defence.”

2. Defence spending

The United States shoulders three quarters of the alliance’s operating budget. U.S. presidents and cabinet secretaries have consistently encouraged NATO members to spend more.

The American argument is expressed well in the valedictory remarks to NATO (June 10, 2011), of former U.S. defense secretary Robert Gates, who warned, “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 or make the necessary changes to be serious and capable partners in their own defense.”

Speaking in February to his fellow defence ministers Defence Secretary James Mattis said “America will meet its responsibilities, but if your nations do not want to see America moderate its commitment to this alliance, each of your capitals needs to show support for our common defence.

Defence spending in 2000 for most NATO members was 2 percent of GDP but it then steadily declined. According to NATO figures released in March, 2017, only five of the 28 members meet NATO’s target of spending at least 2 percent of GDP on defence: the U.S., the U.K., Poland, Greece and Estonia. The U.S. spends 3.61 percent on defence and the U.K. 2.17 percent, based on NATO figures for 2016, while Germany spends 1.2 percent, France 1.7, Italy 1.11 and Spain 0.9. By NATO’s estimates for this year, Canada will spend 1.02 percent of its GDP on defence.

3. Relations with Russia

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and illegal annexation of Crimea violates the U.N. charter, the Helsinki Final Act, and Russia’s 20-year old commitment “to respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine”.

With the end of the Cold War there was hope that Russia would eventually become a NATO partner and in 2009 NATO and Russia signed an accord to “build together a lasting and inclusive peace in the Euro-Atlantic area on the principles of democracy and cooperative security.” Like the Obama ‘reset’ it has not worked out as planned. The NATO-Russia Council, created in 2002, meets in the belief that “in times of tension, dialogue is more important than ever.” NATO has responded to the changed security environment by enhancing its deterrence and defence posture.

President Putin wants to create a sphere of influence on his frontiers and, through the creation of his Eurasian Union (a free-trade customs union between Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus), a counter-weight to NATO (and the European Union). Ukraine is not his first incursion into a neighbour’s territory. In 2008, at his instruction, Russian forces invaded Georgia and occupied the South Ossetia region.

4. Deepening partnerships and maintaining NATO’s open door policy

NATO’s partnerships, born out of its 1990 London summit focused first on the former Soviet bloc nations (many of whom are now full members), then on crisis management in the Balkans, and, since 9-11 on wider partnerships now including more than forty nations around the world – including Afghanistan, Australia, Colombia, Iraq, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mongolia, New Zealand and Pakistan. At its peak, the ISAF mission in Afghanistan included 22 partner nations. Partnership does not include the security guarantee of Article 5. Ukraine and Georgia want membership in NATO and at the Bucharest summit in 2008 NATO encouraged this, but NATO enlargement is controversial and there is discussion of different architecture to guarantee security.

A wise persons report (2016) commissioned by the Finnish government concluded that Finland and Sweden should stick together, whatever the decision, but that membership would provoke Russia. It described Russia as an “unsatisfied power” that “has made unpredictability a strategic and tactical virtue, underpinned by an impressive degree of political and military agility.”

5. Afghanistan

NATO has been involved in Afghanistan since the U.N. Security Council authorized the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) that operated from August 2003 to December 2014. ISAF was NATO’s longest mission employing more than 130,000 troops from 51 NATO and partner nations, including Canada. A new NATO-led mission (Resolute Support) was launched in January 2015 to train, advise and assist the Afghan security forces and institutions.

In his meeting with Secretary General Stollenberg in April, President Trump said he would like more NATO members to re-involve themselves in Afghanistan.

While Canadian Forces left Afghanistan in March 2014 after a twelve-year campaign and the loss of 161 men and women, Canada continues to support a number of programs and activities.

NATO’s current mission in Afghanistan, RESOLUTE SUPPORT, was launched to train, advise and assist the Afghan security forces and institutions in January 2015. A total of 39 countries (and all NATO members with the exception of Canada and France) have contributed a total of 13,459 troops at last official count.

6. ISIS and Terrorism

President Trump told Secretary General Stollenberg during their April meeting in Washington that he hopes that “NATO will take on an increased role in supporting our Iraqi partners in their battle against ISIS.” In his first major foreign policy address abroad (May 21), President Trump told Arab leaders in Riyadh that the fight against terrorism ‘‘is not a battle between different faiths, different sects, or different civilizations. This is a battle between those who seek to obliterate human life and those who seek to protect it.’’

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What results can we expect from the Brussels summit?

NATO Leaders will want to hear President Trump explicitly confirm his commitment to Article 5.

President Trump’s pronouncements aside, reinvigoration of the Alliance begins with political will, and this is a hard commodity to coalesce.

President Trump will reiterate his demand that the Allies spend 2 percent of GDP on national defence, the target originally set by NATO in 2002. Without an agreed strategy on what the spending is to support, binding commitments before 2020, the date set at the 2014 Wales summit, are unlikely.

Commitments would have to include actual capability requirements as well as agreement to make those resources available for combat. The Afghan and Libyan missions were handicapped by the caveats imposed by some NATO members on use of their personnel and equipment.

President Trump will likely push for NATO to formally join the anti-ISIS coalition. Germany is reportedly pushing back against the idea but some form of NATO commitment may be forthcoming. In meeting with reporters last week Secretary General Stollenberg said ““Allies who are arguing in favour are pointing to the fact that by joining the coalition NATO could send a clear message of political support.”

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Canadian involvement at the summit?

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be pressed about Canada’s financial commitment to NATO. During his address to Parliament in June 2015, President Obama also pushed Trudeau for more spending, saying not once, but three times that “NATO needs more Canada.

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Mr. Trudeau is likely to respond to President Trump as he did during his meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in February when he said that “there are many ways of evaluating one’s contribution to NATO” noting that Canada has “always been amongst the strongest actors in NATO.”

Trudeau will likely cite Canada’s leadership of a multinational NATO mission in Latvia (a commitment he made at the Warsaw summit in 2016), as part of broader Canadian support to Operation REASSURANCE, and note the “significant procurement projects” — especially the ongoing construction of new warships and the purchase of fighter jets – and Canada’s renewed activist internationalism.

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Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan told Parliament that the Defence Policy Review – which may include new spending for defence – is scheduled to be announced on June 7.

In practical terms under Operation REASSURANCE, Canadian fighter jets patrol the Baltic skies, and since April 2014 Canada has deployed five Halifax-class frigates in support of NATO reassurance measures. Canada is providing humanitarian and Special Forces support to a U.S.-led multinational effort to support pro-Iraq forces battling the Islamic State.

In terms of readiness, Canadian forces already have achieved significant interoperability on land, air and sea with the U.S. through NORAD, our binational aerospace and maritime surveillance agreement, and through both joint exercises and active operations in theatres like Afghanistan and Libya, and now in Latvia.

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Public Opinion and NATO

Public opinion continues to support NATO.

A spring 2017 Pew Research Center survey of six EU nations (France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, and the United Kingdom), the U.S. and Canada finds positive views of the military alliance.

Asked about their own country should militarily defend a NATO ally (i.e. Article 5) if embroiled in an armed conflict with Russia, there is strong support in the Netherlands (72 percent), Poland (62 percent), United States (62 percent), Canada (58 percent) and France (53 percent), to living up to their mutual defense commitment as a member of NATO.

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BrusselsNATOSummit5.jpgTwo-thirds of Canadians hold NATO in high esteem, a rise of 10 percent since 2015, with rising support across demographic groups and with strong support amongst the major parties: Liberal Party (75 percent), Conservative Party (74 percent) New Democratic Party (65 percent).

Germany has the fourth-largest defense budget in NATO, but only 40 percent of Germans believe they should come to the aid of an ally with. More than half (53 percent) do not support such aid.

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In a 2015 survey a third of those surveyed said their country should increase its national defense spending, while nearly half (median of 47 percent) want to keep spending the same and 14 percent favor decreasing defense spending. The figures for Canada were 31 percent increase spending, 52 percent stay the same and 13 percent saying decrease spending.

A Gallup survey in February, 2017 revealed 80 percent of Americans support the Alliance. When Gallup first asked Americans about their views on NATO in July 1989, 75 percent thought the alliance should be maintained. This percentage dropped to 62 percent in 1991, months before the Soviet Union’s formal collapse, staying at that level during NATO 1995 intervention in the Bosnian War.

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About the Author

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

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Canadian Global Affairs Institute

The Canadian Global Affairs Institute focuses on the entire range of Canada’s international relations in all its forms including (in partnership with the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy), trade investment and international capacity building. Successor to the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute (CDFAI, which was established in 2001), the Institute works to inform Canadians about the importance of having a respected and influential voice in those parts of the globe where Canada has significant interests due to trade and investment, origins of Canada’s population, geographic security (and especially security of North America in conjunction with the United States), social development, or the peace and freedom of allied nations. The Institute aims to demonstrate to Canadians the importance of comprehensive foreign, defence and trade policies which both express our values and represent our interests.

The Institute was created to bridge the gap between what Canadians need to know about Canadian international activities and what they do know. Historically Canadians have tended to look abroad out of a search for markets because Canada depends heavily on foreign trade. In the modern post-Cold War world, however, global security and stability have become the bedrocks of global commerce and the free movement of people, goods and ideas across international boundaries. Canada has striven to open the world since the 1930s and was a driving factor behind the adoption of the main structures which underpin globalization such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the World Trade Organization and emerging free trade networks connecting dozens of international economies. The Canadian Global Affairs Institute recognizes Canada’s contribution to a globalized world and aims to inform Canadians about Canada’s role in that process and the connection between globalization and security.

In all its activities the Institute is a charitable, non-partisan, non-advocacy organization that provides a platform for a variety of viewpoints. It is supported financially by the contributions of individuals, foundations, and corporations. Conclusions or opinions expressed in Institute publications and programs are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Institute staff, fellows, directors, advisors or any individuals or organizations that provide financial support to the Institute.

South Korea and Canada

South Korea is a natural fit for closer trade ties with Canada

In his congratulatory message to newly elected South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged to “deepen relations between our two countries.” It’s the customary diplomatic bromide for these occasions, but with South Korea, it should mean more.

Our only free-trade agreement (FTA) in Asia is with South Korea. Negotiated after nearly a decade of discussions, it gives Canada preferential treatment into a market of 50 million consumers. It has opened up new opportunities, especially for beef and lobster sales, but we should be making more out of it. With few natural resources, beyond the resourcefulness of its people, and the gateways of Incheon and Busan, the South Korean economic miracle is based on innovation, adaptation and entrepreneurial spirit. These are all qualities successive Canadian governments are keen to encourage and develop at home.

Mr. Moon plans to visit Washington in the coming weeks. Mr. Trudeau should invite Mr. Moon to include a Canadian stopover to plan the “how and what” of deepening relations. A renegotiation of the North American free-trade agreement may be at the top of U.S. President Donald Trump’s trade agenda, but he also wants to renegotiate the “horrible”Korea-U.S. free-trade agreement (KORUS). Mr. Moon would almost certainly welcome any advice from our Prime Minister on the management of Mr. Trump.

The FTA provides a framework and platform, but the meat of these deals comes from deepening our business-to-business ties. The South Koreans are keen to develop partnerships in sectors including medical devices, smart cars and e-commerce as well as in the practical application of artificial intelligence and robotics, all areas in which Canada has interest and growing competence.

The private sector will be key. South Korea’s International Trade Association (KITA) with its 71,000 members, mostly small and medium-sized enterprises, is a natural starting point for Canadian business. KITA has 10 overseas offices. One of our goals should be to have KITA open a Canadian office.

But it’s the North Korean situation that is first on Mr. Moon’s to-do list and the main purpose of planned trips to Washington, Beijing and Tokyo. The North Koreans have played the international community for 20-plus years, promising concessions, all the while building their nuclear arsenal and ballistic-missile capacity. The United States has declared an end to its “strategic patience.” All options are now on the table.

To further complicate things for the South Koreans, Mr. Trump says he wants Seoul to pay for the billion-dollar terminal high altitude area defence system (THAAD), while China regards THAAD as provocative. Diplomacy is needed now more than ever.

Canada has a real interest in containing the North Korean nuclear threat. North Korean missiles aimed at the United States, given their faulty trajectory, could easily land in Canada. It’s a strong argument for Canada to sign onto ballistic missile defence in the forthcoming Defence Program Review.

Canada has frozen relations with North Korea and increased sanctions for their nuclear arms perfidy. But would a Canadian presence in Pyongyang give the international community another set of eyes, ears and voice? Canada has place and standing in Korea.

A Canadian missionary created the first Korean-English dictionary. A Canadian doctor to one of Korea’s last monarchs, founded what is now Yonsei University. During the Korean War (1950-53), Canada fielded the third-largest contingent in the UN Forces. The Gapyeong Canada Memorial commemorates the more than 500 Canadians who gave their lives. Canadians still serve with the United Nations Command overseeing the armistice with North Korea.

The people-to-people ties continue to grow. Last year, the Korean Government opened a Korean Cultural Center in Ottawa with its activities including a lively K-Pop gala. At well over 200,000, the Korean-Canadian diaspora is the fourth largest outside of South Korea, with most living in Toronto and Vancouver. There are 25,000 Canadians in South Korea, many teaching English as a second language.

Chasing the big, shiny markets in Asia – China, India and Japan – is understandable, but they also have their challenges. Like the four-leafed clover in the Tin Pan Alley jingle, South Korea has been overlooked. With the Moon Jae-in administration in place, it is time to give South Korea another look.

Colin Robertson is a former Canadian diplomat, and is vice-president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute. He recently participated in a Korea Foundation-sponsored program in South Korea

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Keep Doors Open at all levels

TRENDINGLotto Max | Real estate | Donald Trump | Harjit Sajjan | The New War on Cancer

‘Very unusual’ for White House to try using Trudeau to influence Trump, say observers, but ‘expect more’

Marie-Danielle Smith | May 9, 2017 7:16 PM ET=-

OTTAWA — It is a matter of course for officials in the Prime Minister’s Office and the White House to keep lines of communication open between them, but observers say it was “very unusual” that Trump administration staff last month encouraged Justin Trudeau to try to influence their boss.

In late April, it appeared President Donald Trump was giving serious consideration to scrapping NAFTA, the trade agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico that he has repeatedly called the “worst ever.” (It remains unclear whether he was seriously considering it or whether it was a bluff.)

Canadian government sources told the National Post Monday that a White House official took it upon themself to call Trudeau’s office amid Trump’s pondering, asking PMO staff to have Trudeau give Trump a call, so the pro-trade prime minister could talk the president out of withdrawing from NAFTA.

The Canadian Press then reported it had been Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, the husband of Ivanka Trump and a key White House adviser, who had called Trudeau’s chief of staff, Katie Telford.

The Associated Press confirmed that Kushner had been on the Washington end of the line, but cited an unnamed White House official who claimed the Canadians had instigated the call after news of the preparation of a draft executive order that would dismantle the trade agreement was leaked to news outlets.Regardless of who dialled first, what the reports have in common is a seeming attempt by Kushner to influence Trump, without his knowledge, via a foreign head of government — and close co-operation between the camps to facilitate a call that Trump would later cite as a reason for choosing to renegotiate, rather than kill, NAFTA.While calling on a foreign government to influence the president is “unusual,” it probably doesn’t break any formal rules or laws, according to one legal expert.

“I don’t think there’s a crime here,” said Carlton Lawson, a law professor at the University of California, Davis. The U.S. has a law called the Logan Act, which prohibits citizens “without authority of the United States” from trying to influence foreign governments in “disputes or controversies” involving the U.S. It was passed in 1799 after a Philadelphia state legislator, Dr. George Logan, tried to negotiate directly with French officials to undermine the foreign policy of the party that controlled Congress and the White House. But, Lawson said, the act is ambiguously worded, and not once in its 218 years on the books has it been used to prosecute somebody.

Besides, Lawson said, “the optics would look terrible” for Trump to indict a member of staff, and he wouldn’t fire Kushner, though he “might yell at him.”

Steve Saideman, the Paterson Chair in International Affairs at Carleton University, said it’s “very unusual” that “staffers are using media and other countries to win policy battles.”

“I think it is dangerous because outsiders are being asked to manipulate the president,” he said, noting Kushner must have had “high comfort with Canada” to feel he could set it up.

Saideman said Trudeau should be careful and remain neutral as often as possible — it might not always be in Canada’s interest to poke at Trump when the White House requests it. “Expect four more years of this,” he added.

Eddie Goldenberg, who served as a senior adviser and then chief of staff to prime minister Jean Chrétien from 1993 to 2003, said “there is nothing normal about this White House” and the Trump White House is acting “in a way that nobody has ever before.”

In the past, he said, calls between the American president and the Canadian prime minister would be jointly organized by their national security advisers. It wasn’t “call me in five minutes,” he said. “It was always organized in advance. Usually they knew to a certain extent what they were going to be talking about.”

It’s not clear, he said, to what extent the White House thinks it can use Trudeau to influence Trump. “But there’s no question in my mind, if the president of the United States wants to talk to the prime minister of Canada, the prime minister should respond. … You make the call.”

Colin Robertson, a former diplomat who served in the U.S. and a fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, said “smart” Canadian administrations have historically established close ties with American counterparts.

Gary Clement/National Post

Gary Clement/National Post

Robertson said under past administrations, it was “fairly normal” for officials to contact each other ahead of time to set up calls between their bosses, and “not uncommon” for staffers to have conversations that weren’t known to the president and prime minister — “the principals don’t need to be informed.”

Being able to have a “frank conversation back and forth” is especially important with an unpredictable president south of the border.

When troubling news leaks, staffers should be comfortable enough with each other that they can “phone across” with such clarifications as, “hey, … don’t get spooked by this, or don’t get angry about this, let me put this in context,” said Robertson.

“You keep as many doors open as you can.”

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Managing Trump: Canadian Response after 100 Days

Managing Trump: The Canadian Response

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Image: New York Magazine

by Colin Robertson
Vice-President and Fellow
Canadian Global Affairs Institute
April, 2017

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Managing Trump: The Canadian Response

Every prime minister has three files resting permanently on their desk, requiring their personal attention: national security, national unity and the Canada-U.S. relationship. For Justin Trudeau, the election of Donald Trump has meant putting the Canada-U.S. file on the top of the pile.

Trump campaigned in punchlines, with a signature blend of bombast, bravado and bullying. His platform was nativist, protectionist and populist. His campaign, featuring big rallies and a minimal ground game, defied the new-age electoral conventions based on data-driven micro-targeting. In its successful capture of the Republican nomination and then the presidency, he defied the pundits, the GOP establishment (including its national security establishment that publicly deemed he would put the nation’s security “at risk”) and its conservative wing.1

As president, Donald Trump continues to be a ‘renegade in power’. His tweets have redefined the power of the ‘bully pulpit’ and his administration’s alternative facts and his own truthiness (according the Washington Post during his first 91 days in office Mr. Trump has made 417 false or misleading claims).2

In as much as President Trump has governing principles, they are about the bottom line and what good they will do for the USA. Whereas previous presidents avoided linkage between economics and security, for Trump they are a natural match. It is all part of the ‘art of the deal’.

As he approached his hundred days in office. President Trump took jabs at Canadian dairy, lumber, energy, and threatened withdrawal from the North American free-trade agreement declaring from the White House that “people don’t realize Canada has been very rough on the United States.3 Everyone thinks of Canada as being wonderful, and so do I. I love Canada. But they’ve outsmarted our politicians for many years, and you people understand that.” It was a reminder to Canadians that we do not enjoy any special exemption from the “Full Trump.”

While much of Mr. Trump’s rhetoric is merely noise, what is dangerous about the noise is the effect it is having on business confidence, both domestic and foreign, and about investment in Canada. If investors think Canada is going to lose its ease of access to the United States, Mr. Trudeau’s commitment to create middle-class jobs will not happen.

The Trudeau government’s response has been one of careful, calibrated, fact-based engagement. The opposition and provincial governments, especially premiers, are part of the outreach effort, making it a “Team Canada” initiative. Buttressed with local content, the initiative builds on three core messages: Canada is a fair-trade partner and a market that creates jobs for Americans; Canada is a reliable ally; Canadian resources fuel American growth and jobs.

The relationship and managing Mr. Trump is one that Prime Minister Trudeau must manage personally and get right. Canadian prosperity, and his own re-election, depend on it.

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NAFTA and the Next Election

The next big federal election agenda item has been set: Trump and trade

By the time Canadians next go to the polls, all the players will be lined up to fight over the biggest trade agreement in a generation

US President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hold a joint press conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, February 13, 2017. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

Here we go again. Another federal election that will hinge on free trade.

This is not so much a prediction as it is a simple matter of following the timelines. By 2019, the next federal election, the NAFTA re-negotiations will either be in the dramatic end game or the very contentious ratification phase. The Liberal government will be consumed by the deal, as it already is today. The Conservatives and the NDP will both have new leaders desperate to define themselves by the biggest economic deal of a  generation. What to protect and what to give up? Unions will want a new deal on car manufacturing and will try to stick it to Mexico. Dairy farmers in Quebec will be fighting for supply management. You will hear the phrase “country of label origins” so often it will sound like the name of a band. Softwood lumber, beef, pharmaceuticals—oh, the lawyers are already priapic at the possibilities. We’ll even have the soundtrack of Brian Mulroney singing “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” to Donald Trump. Get ready to negotiate like it’s 1988.

“At the earliest I think the renegotiation—with or without Mexico—will take at least a year, probably 19 months,” says Colin Robertson, the vice president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute and a former diplomat who implemented NAFTA back in 1993. “After that we have to go for ratification, which adds on another year plus. My guess is that NAFTA, or whatever we call it, doesn’t get wrapped up until spring or summer 2019, meaning it will be front and centre in our October 2019 election.”

READ MORE: A Trump trade war with Mexico would be a disaster for both sides

But wait. Isn’t this all supposed to unfold a lot quicker than that? Didn’t Donald Trump say this was just a matter of a few “tweaks”? How long could that take? Isn’t Trump all chummy with Justin Trudeau over their Women’s Business Council?

If you believe that then you might as well believe your microwave is spying on you. Just listen to the Trump people who are in charge of the NAFTA renegotiation. They are not predicting a trade war with us; they believe they are already in one. We just refuse to believe it.

“We’ve been in a trade war for decades,” new U.S. commerce secretary Wilbur Ross told Bloomberg News recently, as he clarified why the U.S. is launching a radical series of trade negotiations that will include a head-on collision with China and ripping up NAFTA. Comparing trade negotiations to war is standard fare for the Trump administration, where hyperbolic, confrontational rhetoric is the vernacular. Turns out the art of the deal is really a euphemism for an eye-gouging brawl.

Ross and Trump are obsessed with the dangers of trade deficits. It is their white whale and they’re likely just as mythical. The fact is, most economists agree that trade deficits are not necessarily bad for the U.S. economy nor do they reflect some camouflaged version of a trade war, as Ross asserts. There are many reasons why the U.S. imports more than it exports, and some of those reasons actually help the economy. But billionaires like Trump and Ross don’t trifle with details. Every minor issue is elevated to its maximum threat level, so a trade imbalance becomes a trade war. That’s why when Trump casually remarked that the coming changes to NAFTA will merely be “tweaks,” he was so off brand. Trumps don’t tweak, they transform—or, at least, they say they will. Ross has now corrected the record. “It’s not going to be a shooting war,” he continued to Bloomberg, as if the bench mark for an acceptable negotiation was merely a lack of bullets. “If people know you have the big bazooka, you probably don’t have to use it.”

So there it is. Either Wilbur Ross has a bazooka in his trade pocket or he’s just really excited to negotiate with Canada. Whatever it is: by his own admission, a trade war is coming. That warning was reiterated this week during the confirmation hearing for Robert Lighthizer, the incoming trade secretary. Both Republicans and Democrats pressed him to crack down on trade with Canada, including digital piracy, counterfeit products and softwood lumber. “I’ve had a variety of issues with respect to Canada that have been raised by senators,” Lighthizer said. “There are a number of things we have to address with respect to Canada.”

None of this is a surprise to Team Trudeau. They have done the pragmatic thing and fanned out across the U.S. this week like the snowstorm Stella itself—blanketing politicians with information about the benefits of an open border and free trade with Canada. To their credit, they have not been lulled into complacency by the purring of the Trump lions. They have set up a special Trump team inside the PMO, shuffled the cabinet to get competent and connected people like Chrystia Freeland and Andrew Leslie in key spots, and taken advice from everyone who can help, from Derek Burney to Brian Mulroney. Conservatives I have spoken to have grudgingly acknowledged that the PM is doing all the right things.

The only person griping is NDP leader Tom Mulcair, who believes that unless Trudeau is out there calling Trump a fascist, he’s nothing more than a quisling. Mulcair can say stuff like this because he’s now in his Easy Rider phase, wildly gunning it down the last miles of his political highway and sticking it to the man. Go man go. He deserved better from his party and if he wants to bring back some hippie anger to the NDP, damn the consequences.

READ MORE: Why Canada—and its economy—has plenty to fear from Trump

For the Prime Minister, though, all things must be put through the political calculator, especially with Canada’s largest trading partner. We don’t get to pick the U.S. President any more than we pick our own parents, so Trudeau’s tactical charm offensive is a legitimate response. This week the Prime Minister is in New York to reinforce the close bond of Canada and the U.S. during 9/11. Last week he was in Texas at an energy conference talking about oil. Meanwhile, other ministers, MPs and premiers are hitting 11 states, from Kentucky to Wisconsin, Indiana to Florida. It’s better to jaw-jaw than war-war, as Winston Churchill liked to say.

The problem is, it might not make much difference. The next election will still be about the trade deal: What was won, what was lost, what concessions were made, what victories were gained. Look at the timeline. The President needs to gives Congress 90 days’ notification in order to kick start the renegotiation of NAFTA, but he can’t rush too much because Wilbur Ross’s team still isn’t in place. Still, for the sake of argument, let’s follow Ross’s “bazooka approach”—the fast-track option—and assume the President gives notice in the next few weeks. Then what?

Here are the blocks of time you have to bake into the process at the bare minimum. Congress needs 180 days’ warning before signing the deal, as the Globe and Mail has reported, and another 105 days for the International Trade Commission to look over the deal and put out a report. Then there is another 6o-day period for amendments. That’s already 435 days, deep into 2018—and that’s if everything goes smoothly.

No serious person thinks it will go smoothly, even if Congress tries to fast-track the timelines. Contentious issues like softwood lumber, automobiles and, wait for it, water, could blow this thing up. The free trade deal with the European Union took years and it was almost derailed by the Walloons. We don’t even know who the U.S. version of the Walloons will be, but in America, Walloons are super-sized, so expect a few hurdles. Just look back at the former trade deals with the U.S. as precedent.

“We finished negotiations of the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement in October 1987 and then made some more changes in December before signature in January 1988,” says Robertson. “Then we fought an election on it. Then on NAFTA we finished negotiations in early 1993 and put it through the implementing legislation, finishing in June 1993. Then came the October election and we had to do the labour and environmental accords. Clinton only got the U.S. Congress to pass it in November 1993, a year after he was elected and signed in December.”

Talking to Robertson about trade timelines makes a mockery of the idea that there are simple tweaks out there. There aren’t. The first U.S.–Canada Free Trade Agreement took four years. When we brought in Mexico to make it NAFTA, it took another four years. The Trans Pacific Partnership, which Trump just crushed, has been 11 years in the making. People talk about the Doha Development Round, which started in 2001, as if was a mythical character in a box-office flop called Fantastic Trade Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Saul Loeb/Getty

Let’s add one more wrinkle here: Washington gridlock. Even though Republicans control the House, the Senate and the presidency, the debate over replacing Obamacare has revealed the unified government to be more like a dysfunctional family at a Christmas dinner. “Trump is no Lyndon Johnson,” says Robertson, “and while he is better than Obama at working congressional leadership, my friends tell me there are already antagonisms at the staff level between the Speaker/majority leader in the Senate and the White House.” Pass the gravy.

READ MORE: Trudeau can’t afford to just play Trump one-on-one

Not everyone thinks it will go this long. I spoke with Eddie Goldenberg, Jean Chretien’s former senior political advisor, who believes the process could wrap up faster. “The Trump Administration will do its best to finish before the midterms in the U.S., so it is unlikely that the negotiations will be continuing during the next Canadian election campaign,” he says. Maybe. But as Robertson points out, the implementation and ratification will take another year-plus. “If there is any election issue,” Goldenberg says, “it will be about the government’s record—positive or negative—with respect to the outcome of the negotiations.”

That is true and the battle lines will quickly be drawn. The NDP needs to regain the union vote as it tacks back to the left and will likely oppose much of the deal unless it is radically changed to protect Canadian jobs, something no one here has signalled. But until Jack Layton, opposing free trade was the ticket to the NDP’s best success, and that formula will no doubt be back. The Conservatives are in a full identity crisis now, and will have to figure out if they want to play tough with the U.S. and go back to the Sir John A. MacDonald days of a National Policy—essentially copying Trump’s Buy American stance with a Buy Canadian—or if they want to follow the pro-free trade Mulroney-Harper path, which is more likely but offers less differentiation from the Liberals. Either way, the free trade deal will be the target. Everyone better grab a bazooka.

Trade with the U.S. has defined many Canadian elections, from 1867 to 1911 to 1988. Might as well get ready now and pencil in 2019 as another election fought over free trade.

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Getting Ready for NAFTA Negotiations

For Canada, all hands on deck during NAFTA renegotiations

The rules of the road for trade with our biggest trading partner are about to be renegotiated. We need an all-of-Canada effort to get ready.

The stakes are critical: Three-quarters of our exports head south to the United States. Trade with the United States represents almost a third of our GDP and it sustains close to one in five Canadian jobs.

In the coming days, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross will formally advise Congress of NAFTA renegotiations, setting in play a 90-day consideration by House and Senate committees. By the latter part of the year, Mr. Ross expects that we will be into “real” negotiations that he predicts will take at least a year.

Following his White House meetings with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last month, President Donald Trump described the Canada-U.S. relationship as just needing some “tweaking.” But, as Mr. Ross told Bloomberg this week, “there is a lot of meat to be dealt with,” including addressing the digital economy and revising the rules of origin.

After meeting recently with her Mexican counterparts in Toronto , Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said that Canada’s preference is for trilateral negotiations. Mr. Trump prefers bilateral deals but Secretary Ross says he is “open-minded” about the form. Regardless, Canada and Mexico need to stay close to avoid the divide-and-conquer techniques that are integral to Mr. Trump’s “art of the deal.”

Getting Canada’s act together means real collaboration between the federal and provincial governments and close, continuing consultations with business, labour and civic society. We need consensus on two questions:

  • What do we want from the negotiations?
  • How do we get there?

The more creative we can be, the better. The expertise of sectoral advisory groups proved vital to the successful negotiation of the Canada-U.S. free-trade agreement (1988) and NAFTA (1993-4). They should be resurrected and made permanent. We need to co-opt the best brains in our research community to rapidly crunch data and provide timely analysis for our negotiators.

The Canadian strategy going into the talks must be bold. A new agreement should be broad and comprehensive, providing for the free flow of people, goods and services with enforceable standards for labour and the environment. Let’s take the best from the stillborn (at least for now) Trans-Pacific Partnership. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke to our mutually beneficial energy relationship in putting forward a Canadian policy that is both pragmatic and progressive.

Most of the American “asks” are readily identifiable. As Mr. Ross told Congress during his confirmation hearings, the United States wants to reduce its trade deficits and to restore manufacturing through increasing the “Made in America” content for rules of origin.

The United States Trade Representative annual National Trade Estimates report lists United States’ complaints with Canada. These include extending the intellectual property protection for pharmaceuticals; ending supply management for dairy and poultry; and inspecting for counterfeits, especially for Chinese goods shipped to U.S. destinations through Canadian ports like Vancouver or Prince Rupert.

The easiest solution on rules of origin would be to move to a customs union, but the Americans are unlikely to buy in unless it is a strictly Canada-U..S agreement. Otherwise we need to redefine rules of origin as “Made in North America.” American manufacturers should be our allies, especially those in the automotive industry, where supply-chain integration dates from the 1965 Canada-U.S. Auto Pact.

We should agree to counterfeit inspection in return for extended pre-clearance of goods and easier business travel access. Reforming supply management is long overdue, but let’s get something in return, such as access to U.S. shipbuilding contracts.

Where they were once divided, today Canada’s premiers are of like mind on the value of trade, leading missions across our oceans. Now they need to focus on our biggest customer, especially through cultivating their governor counterparts in regional meetings and through visits to their states. Premier Rachel Notley sets the bar through consistent visits to the US capitol and other US cities.

Access to procurement is vital, especially at the state and provincial government level and, for the premiers, this should be job one. Working with governors, they did a procurement reciprocity deal around the Obama infrastructure investments in 2010. Now we need to make it permanent.

The Americans like us, indeed, more than we like them. The Trudeau government has created good working relationships within the Trump administration. But complacency is a mistake. Mr. Trump’s priority is “making America great again.” The business of America is business. Canada needs to be ready.

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NAFTA Negotiations and Mexico

Bureaucrats ‘literally working around the clock’ to prep for NAFTA talks

‘We’re in a period of great uncertainty,’ one top bureaucrat told Senators last month. The foreign ministry is preparing for anything and everything as a trade renegotiation inches closer.

Justin Trudeau and Donald Trump walk with each other at the White House on Feb. 13. Photograph courtesy of Donald Trump’s Twitter account

By PETER MAZEREEUW

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, March 8, 2017 12:00 AM

The federal government is working day and night to prepare itself as the new Trump administration in the United States eyes restructuring the North American Free Trade Agreement, according to a senior official in Canada’s foreign ministry.

“If my colleague Martin is looking a little tired these days, it’s because he and his trade policy colleagues are literally working around the clock to consider all of [the] different scenarios,” David Morrison, Global Affairs Canada’s assistant deputy minister in charge of the Americas, said of Martin Moen, GAC’s director general for North America and Investment, at a Senate Foreign Affairs and International Trade Committee meeting on Feb. 16.

“We really don’t know at this point how the U.S. wishes to proceed,” Mr. Moen told Senators.

Mr. Morrison said he believed the U.S. government is just now starting to think about how to deliver on President Donald Trump’s promise to renegotiate the NAFTA, or tear it up.

He responded to questions from the Senators about Mexico’s place in any renegotiations—Mr. Trump has lambasted the NAFTA as favouring Mexico over the U.S.—by saying Mexico is “most definitely not being left out of the conversation.” Mr. Moen noted that the existing three-way deal allows just two of the partners to address some trade issues, such as trucking or the sugar trade, without drawing in the third.

Some Canadian government officials speaking anonymously to Reuters in January and former ambassador to the U.S. Derek Burney have suggested Canada distance itself from Mexico, perceived to be the true target of Mr. Trump’s dissatisfaction with the NAFTA, which came into force in 1994.

In response to chatter about whether Canada should go it alone with the U.S., Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland (University-Rosedale, Ont.) underlined at a panel discussion hosted by the Canadian Council for the Americas on Feb. 21 in Toronto that “NAFTA is a three-country agreement,” and “Were there to be any new negotiations, those would be three-way negotiations.”

In any case, Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray, who also spoke at the event, said he understood if Canada avoided some of Mexico’s one-on-one concerns with the U.S. Each country would have its own agenda, the CBC reported him saying.

Ms. Freeland’s foreign ministry is preparing for the possibility of bilateral agreements with the U.S. and Mexico if a three-party deal can’t be struck, Mr. Morrison told the Senate committee.

“We’re in a period of great uncertainty, and in a period of uncertainty it’s prudent to prepare for all eventualities, and that’s of course what we’re doing.”

The federal government’s position is that NAFTA has benefited all three countries, said Mr. Moen, adding, “when we talk with business associations in the United States, with specific companies, with local governments, they all agree.”

“Regardless of rhetoric, Canada and many in the United States understand that a secure, stable, and prosperous Mexico is indispensable to Canada’s own prosperity and security,” said Mr. Morrison, listing security, human and drug trafficking, health pandemics, and energy systems integration as issues “best addressed collectively.”

 

Ninety days-plus to go

Mr. Trump has repeatedly said that the NAFTA gives Mexico an advantage over his country, and has moved American jobs to Mexico.

He has been less critical of trade with Canada, calling it “a much less severe situation than what’s taken place on the southern border” during his press conference in Washington with Mr. Trudeau last month. Mr. Trump said the U.S. wanted to “tweak” its trading terms with Canada.

What that means is anyone’s guess. The U.S. and Canada have major or minor trade disputes centred around softwood lumber, dairy and chicken, drywall, wine, and proposals for country-of-origin labelling rules that would require products from north of the border to be tracked separately and labelled as foreign-made.

When Conservative MP Gerry Ritz (Battlefords-Lloydminster Sask.), his party’s trade critic, pressured the Liberal government in the House last month to make public what’s on the table for renegotiation in any NAFTA talks, Liberal MP Andrew Leslie (Orléans, Ont.), the parliamentary secretary for foreign affairs, didn’t do so, but answered that his government would be ready for talks if and when the U.S. was ready to sit down.

That is still at least a few months away. Mr. Trump’s White House held an informal meeting with congressional leaders last month to discuss the NAFTA renegotiation, but has yet to start the clock on a 90-day window in which they will formally negotiate over how the U.S. should try to change the deal.

In Canada, Mr. Trudeau is leading a government-wide political charm offensive to match his foreign ministry’s efforts on the policy side. He restructured his cabinet, many think to better match it to the task of dealing with a Trump administration, and dispatched his top aides and cabinet ministers to the U.S. to build ties with the Trump team and the new Congress. Many of the Liberal-led House committees are also planning to travel to Washington to meet their counterparts in the next few months.

peter@hilltimes.com

@PJMazereeuw

Top Canadian industries exporting to the U.S. last year

Source: Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada

Auto manufacturing—$60.6-billion

Oil and gas extraction—$60.3-billion

Petroleum refineries—$12.1-billion

Aerospace parts and manufacturing—$9.1-billion

Pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing—$8.5-billion

Sawmills and wood preservation—$8.2-billion

Aluminum production and processing—$7.6-billion

Resin, synthetic rubber manufacturing—$6.7-billion

Ferrous metal (non aluminum) smelting and refining—$5.9-billion

Other plastic product manufacturing—$5.3-billion

 

Mix with Mexico, or go it alone?

With U.S. President Donald Trump aiming his disappointment with NAFTA at Mexico rather than Canada, analysts and government officials are weighing in on whether Canada should push for a revised two-way or three-way deal.

 

Take a step back from the trilateral:

“We should not indulge in ridiculous posturing—like getting together with Mexico to defend our interests, when Canada has very different economic interests than Mexico. It is a fundamental error to conflate them.”

—Former ambassador to the U.S. Derek Burney, Maclean’s, Jan. 30

 

“We love our Mexican friends. But our national interests come first and the friendship comes second.”

—An unnamed source quoted by Reuters on the sidelines of a cabinet retreat in Calgary, Jan. 24.

 

“Mexico is in a terrible, terrible position. We are not.”

—An unnamed Canadian involved on the trade file quoted by Reuters Jan. 24.

 

 

Don’t throw Mexico under the bus:

“Our relationship with Mexico is important. We should stand with the Mexican government and help them deal with the discriminatory trends that they are now seeing.”

—Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, speaking to reporters Jan. 30,

 

“Canada may not be in the crosshairs in the same fashion as Mexico but we have no immunity from Trumpian threats. Canada and Mexico need to hang together or, surely, we will hang separately.”

—Former diplomat Colin Robertson, The Globe and Mail, Jan. 16

 

“The Trump presidency should bring Mexico and Canada much closer together, not tear us apart. Whatever trade or investment measures the U.S. applies to our country may end up harming Canada as well and destroying the competitive advantages that the North American value chain has brought since NAFTA came into force 23 years ago.”

—Andrés Rozental, former deputy foreign minister of Mexico, The Globe and Mail, Jan. 27

 

“NAFTA is a three-country agreement. Were there to be any new negotiations, those would be three-way negotiations.”

—Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, speaking at a Feb. 21 Toronto panel discussion

 

“Throwing friends and neighbours and allies under the bus is a position for a weak leader. This is not the Canadian tradition.”

—Former prime minister Brian Mulroney, CBC’s Power and Politics, Feb. 21

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Trump and Trudeau

How Trudeau could play nice with Trump

If physical security and economic growth are priorities for Trump, Canada might be in a good shape, says expert

Mike Blanchfield and Jordan Press, The Canadian Press

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson looks on as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes opening remarks before meeting with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities in Ottawa, Friday, January 20, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

OTTAWA – Boost defence spending, dial down the volume on battling climate change and find a bridge or energy project to build together.

That was the expert advice Prime Minister Justin Trudeau received Friday on how to get along with new U.S. President Donald Trump and make Canada relevant to his “America First” policy.

Derek Burney, a former Canadian ambassador to the U.S. under Brian Mulroney, said Trump’s protectionist, pro-American inauguration speech need not be cause for the Trudeau government light its “hair on fire” because there is plenty of policy space for Canada to plug into.

“If physical security and economic growth are his priorities, we’re in good shape to be constructively co-operative with him on both,” said Burney.

“We have common infrastructure that needs modernizing along our border.” He suggested joining forces to modernize the Canada-U.S. electricity grid, or jointly building the proposed Gordie Howe Bridge between southern Ontario and Michigan.

Boosting defence spending should also be seriously considered, said Burney because the U.S. is spending a disproportionate amount in NATO — something Trump has complained loudly about this past week.

Roland Paris, Trudeau’s former foreign policy adviser, said increasing defence spending makes sense regardless of Trump, because it’s a necessary “insurance policy” in an unstable world beset with security threats.

“The ‘America First’ model that Trump has articulated poses a signal challenge to all of America’s partners, whether it’s Europe partners, other members of NATO, Mexico, Canada.”

RELATED: And the biggest economic uncertainty for Canada under Trump is…

Canada doesn’t need to be scared of the Trump administration as long as it creates “a relationship where they see us as partners, not competition,” said Georganne Burke, an American-born Trump supporter who is a vice-president of a Toronto public relations firm.

But Trudeau and his ministers have to hold firm to their constructive approach towards wanting to find common ground with Trump and “stay away from the snark” in its messaging, she said.

That means toning down the rhetoric on the threats posed by climate change because most U.S. conservatives were angered by Barack Obama’s characterization of it as the greatest threat to the world, she said. “They will be willing to talk about environmental issues but they’re going to talk about it in a more conservative fashion.”

Colin Robertson, a veteran ex-diplomat with extensive U.S. experience, said it is crucial for Trudeau and his team to continue pushing the fact that millions of American jobs depend on trade with Canada and that 35 U.S. states count Canada as their top customer.

Robertson said Trudeau took the right approach when said he looked forward to working not only with Trump’s administration but with Congress, state and local governments “to restore prosperity to the middle class on both sides of the border and to create a safer and more peaceful world.”

Trudeau reminded Trump of Canada’s historically close ties with the U.S. in his congratulatory statement issued minutes after the billionaire businessman was sworn in as the 45th president.

“This enduring partnership is essential to our shared prosperity and security,” Trudeau said, citing “robust” trade, investment and economic ties that have long linked the two countries, while supporting millions of jobs.

“We both want to build economies where the middle class, and those working hard to join it, have a fair shot at success.”

Trudeau also spoke to the provincial and territorial premiers about the new administration.

His office said he and the premiers stressed the importance of the Canada-U.S. relationship and discussed the opportunities presented by the transition in Washington.

RELATED: How the Trudeau government is bracing for Trump

Earlier Friday, the prime minister urged the mayors of Canada’s biggest cities to keep close ties with their American counterparts to maintain an open border with the U.S. Those relationships will be vital to ensuring open dialogue and trade between the two countries, he said.

The mayors say their relationships with municipal leaders on the other side could serve as a counterbalance to any protectionist movements initiated by the Trump administration, given the trade ties between Canada and American cities and states.

“The United States is not just one president,” said Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, who pointed to an upcoming meeting he has with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on the issue of climate change.

“It’s a complex system and we’ll do what we have to do. We are already working really hard with different colleagues from south of the border.”

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said he hopes Canada remains open to immigrants from all over the world should Trump follow through on his protectionist threats.

“Let’s ensure that we are open to the world, to trade, to brains to money to ideas and make sure that we seize on this opportunity.”

Toronto Mayor John Tory said taking a seat in the Oval Office could change Trump.

“You realize you have to represent and lead everyone. So I’m hopeful that President Trump will understand that with that office.”

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Managing Trump

Trudeau-Trump will be no ‘bromance’

This week’s election result surprised most Canadians, but now we need to prepare for a Trump administration.

The kind of “bromance” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau developed with U.S. President Barack Obama is unlikely to be repeated. Nevertheless, Mr. Trudeau needs to personally lead Canadian efforts to exercise, as he once put it, “effective influence” in Donald Trump’s Washington in order to advance Canadian objectives.

Premiers and legislators have to help. Our political leadership needs to reach out to Mr. Trump’s transition team and to Republican and Democratic leadership in Congress and in the States. Business and labour leaders need to step up with their counterparts to underline the shared value of our “strong integrated economies.”

Our message is simple: An integrated North American (including Mexican) approach to economic development, especially around energy, serves our mutual interests. Canadian outreach means identifying and calling our American friends to action.

Mr. Trump’s campaign agenda was mostly delivered in broad strokes. Now, we need to register our positions to help shape his administration’s policy direction. Rather than trying to boil the ocean, our efforts should focus on three areas:

  • Security: Mr. Trump expects North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies to pull their weight.
  • Trade: Mr. Trump wants a revision of the North American free-trade agreement because of American job losses.
  • Energy: Mr. Trump calls for more drilling of fossil fuels, fewer regulations and withdrawal from the Paris Agreement.

On trade, we need to remind Mr. Trump’s team that Canadian trade and investment is behind an estimated nine million American jobs. Nearly 80 per cent of what Canada sells to the United States goes into American-made goods and services.

Mr. Trump wants an ambitious infrastructure building program. We need to figure out how to integrate our governments’ infrastructure programs into this effort and so improve our mutual competitiveness.

The message on burden-sharing is not new, although Mr. Trump delivers it in his characteristic blunt fashion. We need to look anew at the defence review, especially the pace and scope of our figher-jet replacement and fleet renewal. Reaching the NATO spending target is important. U.S. national security leadership will confirm that co-operation between our military, security and intelligence services is excellent. We are also contributing to the campaign against the Islamic State, putting boots on the ground in Latvia and reinvigorating Canadian peace operations.

On energy, Mr. Trump promises approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. We need to persuade his team to look at energy as a continental resource that, if we manage it well, will fuel the manufacturing renaissance he wants to create.

While Mr. Trump may not be immediately receptive, there are allies in Congress who support continuing collaboration on clean energy because it makes sense and creates jobs. Meantime, we need to move on pipelines to tidewater within Canada so we can get full value from our natural inheritance.

At his first meeting with Mr. Trump, Mr. Trudeau must avoid falling into what former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice described as the Canadian penchant for focusing on “condominium issues,” and instead focus on getting to know one another.

If we have one ask, it should be to continue the North American energy ministers’ meetings. It has been a successful catalyst for practical action. Leave the “transactionals” for later discussions at the ministerial and ambassadorial level.

The byword going forward, for federal and provincial governments, should be constant engagement with their counterparts in the United States. The best way to shield ourselves from populism and protectionism is by personally making our case to Americans.

Success will depend on cultivating and sustaining relationships at all levels through a thousand points of contact. For example, Canadian premiers and legislators should attend inaugurations for the new governors, especially those elected in the five border-state elections. Canadian parliamentarians, business and labour leaders should plan to head south for the presidential inauguration and then join Americans to watch the parade from the Canadian embassy. Our snowbirds need to remind their American friends how Canada supports their security and how our trade and investment creates their jobs.

To help better understand the public mood that led so many Americans to vote for Mr. Trump, read J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy. One astute former U.S. ambassador has observed that Canadians think that they know all they need to know about the United States, while Americans think they know all they need to know about Canada – but we are both wrong.

As Canadians learned again this week, there is still a lot we need to learn and understand about our southern neighbours – and, just as important, that we need to help them understand about us.

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Canada-US Relations after Obama

Publié le 31 mars 2016 à 05h00 | Mis à jour le 31 mars 2016 à 05h00

Justin Trudeau prépare l’après-Obama

Justin Trudeau a rencontré des étudiants de l'Université... (PHOTO PC)

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Justin Trudeau a rencontré des étudiants de l’Université américaine, à Washington, le 11 mars dernier. La veille, le premier ministre canadien a été reçu en grande pompe par le président américain Barack Obama à la Maison-Blanche.

(Ottawa) Le premier ministre Justin Trudeau multiplie les visites aux États-Unis. L’objectif est de préparer tranquillement le terrain pour l’après-Obama en tissant des alliances avec les décideurs américains, mais aussi avec le monde des affaires.

M. Trudeau effectue aujourd’hui une troisième visite chez nos voisins du Sud en moins d’un mois après avoir été reçu en grande pompe par le président Barack Obama à la Maison-Blanche le 10 mars et après s’être rendu au siège des Nations unies, le 16 mars, afin d’annoncer que le Canada tentera de décrocher un des sièges temporaires au Conseil de sécurité pour un mandat de deux ans à compter de 2021.

Officiellement, M. Trudeau se trouve dans la capitale américaine aujourd’hui afin de participer au sommet international sur la sûreté nucléaire organisé par le président américain. Le scénario d’une «bombe sale» qui pourrait tomber entre les mains de djihadistes du groupe État islamique (EI) alimentera les travaux de ce sommet.

M. Trudeau profitera tout de même de l’occasion pour prononcer un discours devant les membres de la puissante Chambre de commerce des États-Unis. Même s’il évitera comme la peste de s’immiscer dans les primaires américaines, M. Trudeau rappellera l’importance des relations canado-américaines.

Dans les rangs libéraux, on soutient que les nombreuses visites du premier ministre sur le sol américain – il sera de nouveau à New York le 22 avril afin de signer l’accord de Paris sur les changements climatiques – s’inscrivent dans une volonté de tisser rapidement des liens avec les décideurs de la scène politique et du monde des affaires.

Car les autorités canadiennes auront éventuellement besoin de ces nouveaux liens pour faire avancer les dossiers qu’elles jugent prioritaires une fois que Barack Obama aura terminé son mandat.

«C’est une excellente stratégie»

Selon l’ancien ambassadeur du Canada aux États-Unis Raymond Chrétien, il est tout à fait avisé pour le premier ministre de tisser de tels liens avec les leaders politiques et les gens d’affaires afin de préparer l’après-Obama.

« C’est une excellente stratégie, après sa très belle visite à la Maison-Blanche. M. Trudeau fait d’une pierre deux coups. D’abord, il participe à un sommet international important sur la sécurité nucléaire. Ensuite, il profite de l’occasion pour s’adresser aux gens d’affaires. Il ne reste plus que huit ou neuf mois au président Obama », a affirmé à La Presse M. Chrétien, aujourd’hui associé et conseiller stratégique chez Fasken Martineau.

L’ancien diplomate aux États-Unis Colin Robertson a abondé dans le même sens. «Cela est tout à fait logique. Les gens d’affaires aux États-Unis sont conscients de l’importance de la relation commerciale entre les deux pays. Mais le protectionnisme est à la mode dans les deux partis. Normalement, on peut compter sur le Parti républicain pour défendre le libre-échange. Mais il y a eu un revirement important dans l’attitude des républicains qui appuient Donald Trump, qui évoque l’imposition de tarifs», a affirmé M. Robertson, vice-président de l’Institut canadien des affaires mondiales.

La Presse a rapporté hier que des regroupements de gens d’affaires du Canada s’inquiètent du discours résolument protectionniste qui domine les primaires américaines depuis plusieurs semaines. À la Chambre de commerce du Canada, on soutient que les propositions de certains candidats pourraient bien provoquer le chaos économique si elles étaient mises en oeuvre.

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