Yesterday, the Prime Minister of Canada met with the President of the United States (#TrudeaumeetsTrump) for the first time. For President Trump, it was one in a series of meetings and phone calls that he has had with foreign leaders. For many Canadians, the question was where Canada ranks with America’s new president on trade and NAFTA.
The NAFTA agreement that was signed in 1994 between the United States, Canada and Mexico, has helped strengthen the ties between the three countries. There are nine million Americans whose jobs rely on the movement of goods from the United States to Canada. Most Canadians know that America is the number one market for Canadians goods and that Canada is the number one market for exported goods from thirty-five states. About 74% of Canadian goods are exported to the USA; 18.3% of American made goods go to Canada. The dollar value is about same. There is almost $2 billion in Commerce that takes place between the two countries on a daily basis.
In addition to these key issues, this was also an opportunity for the two leaders to set the tone for the years to come. Canadians put a high value on their relationship with the United States. They understand that we are and have been best friends, neighbours and allies. We have worked with Americans and fought beside Americans in a variety of wars.
The headlines in the Canadian media have identified that Canadians had a certain level of “anxiety” as PM Trudeau boarded a flight to Washington. During the election campaign, Donald Trump talked about “tearing up” the “terrible” NAFTA deal. From a transportation industry perspective, “trucks haul two-thirds by value of Canada-U.S. trade; anything that might disrupt that trade – whether it’s about scrapping NAFTA, a border tax, or further layers of border security – is of a real concern to us,” says David Bradley, Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Trucking Alliance. “Moreover, anything that thickens the border and makes supply chains less reliable and predictable would have a profound impact on the competitiveness of both countries.”
The message that Canadians and Americans received today was a positive one. President Trump used the word “outstanding” to describe America’s relationship with Canada and stated that he is committed to make it better. The US and Canada don’t take jobs from either other; they produce jobs for each other. He highlighted that the US has a trade imbalance with Mexico; Canada is not the problem. President Trump would like to see the creation of more jobs on both sides of the border. Here were a few key takeaways from the joint press release.
“. . . we commit to establishing pre-clearance operations for cargo. We intend to accelerate the completion of pre-clearance for additional cities and continue to expand this program. . . “
“Given our shared focus on infrastructure investments, we will encourage opportunities for companies in both countries to create jobs through those investments. In particular, we look forward to the expeditious completion of the Gordie Howe International Bridge, which will serve as a vital economic link between our two countries.”
“It is a priority of both countries to ensure equal opportunities for women in the workforce. We are committed to removing barriers to women’s participation in the business community and supporting women as they advance through it. As part of this effort, we are creating a Canada-United States Council for Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders. We expect this initiative to promote the growth of women-owned enterprises and to further contribute to our overall economic growth and competitiveness, as well as the enhanced integration of our economies.and to encourage women entrepreneurs.”
The two leaders were smart enough to sidestep the differences of the two countries on Immigration, an issue where the two countries have fundamentally different policies. This was the final section of the communique.
The Way Forward
“We share a commitment to continue to strengthen our ties for the benefit of our mutual prosperity and security. We look forward to our cabinets following up on today’s meeting with further discussions in their respective areas of responsibility. Our countries deserve our full commitment to increased economic growth, which we will deliver. The partnership between the United States and Canada will continue to be unique and a model for the world.”
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