MLI Research Advisory Board Member Elliot Tepper joined Mark Sutcliffe on Ottawa Today to discuss the NAFTA negotiations between Canada and the United States.
Tepper expressed skepticism over the notion that a lack of chemistry between US and Canadian representatives was holding back the negotiations, pointing out that this could only be a matter of conjecture as the talks are being held behind closed doors.
Tepper stated that it was more likely that real disagreements over substantive issues have so far prevented Canada and the US from reaching a deal. These areas of disagreement have arisen largely due to President Trump’s decision to seek the electoral support of voters whose economic prospects have suffered from increased global competition.
Although Trump’s trade policy has been characterized as erratic, Tepper argued that it is in fact driven by a desire to appeal to the constituents who successfully made him President. Tepper noted that despite negative press coverage over 90% of Republicans who vote approve of the President.
Interestingly, provisions of the agreement announced between Mexico and the United States seem to have been taken directly from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, which Trump heavily criticized in the 2016 election and had the United States withdraw from as President.
The ability of Mexico and the United States to reach an understanding despite serious areas of disagreement may indicate that the outstanding issues between Canada and the United States can still be resolved. Tepper however noted that a written text of the US-Mexico agreement does not exist yet, and that the announcement may mark simply progress in negotiations rather than a final settlement.
During the interview, Tepper also discusses American politics more broadly including midterm election results and the death of Senator John McCain as well as the allegations of ‘Crimes Against Humanity’ in Myanmar and Yemen.