MLI Munk Senior Fellow Sean Speer joined Greg Bonnell on BNN Bloomberg’s The Real Economy to discuss the state of the current NAFTA talks.
Speer stated that while any Canadian government might have found itself in the current impasse given Trump’s unpredictable negotiating style, the Trudeau government could not be entirely left off the hook. It’s failure to engage constructively with Washington’s new priorities following Donald Trump’s election helped drive the Canada-US relationship to what may be its lowest point in 70 years.
According to Speer, Ottawa could have collaborated with the US on China, corporate espionage, and asymmetries in the auto industry. Instead, Canada pursued closer ties with Beijing and aligned itself with Mexico in the NAFTA talks. Also, Canada should have recognized that prioritizing making NAFTA more progressive was going to be a non-starter with the Trump administration.
Since Canada-US trade accounts for roughly 20% of Canada’s GDP but only 2% of the US GDP, the tit-for-tat tariff strategy is not a sustainable in the long-term for Canada. Instead, Speer argues, Trudeau should focus on areas of mutual interest while focusing on improving Canadian competitiveness.