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PM's personal soapbox has no place at the international trade table


“‘In advance of a series of recent trade talks with various existing global trading partners, Canada’s Liberal government has added a so-called “progressive” negotiating agenda to the table – an incremental agenda designed to “export” Liberal sensibilities on such far-reaching issues as gender rights, the environment, and aboriginal and labour law. 

If Canada thinks it can lead trade discussions with a political agenda, our negotiating team – and associated political leaders – are either delusional, naive, or just plain stupid. Maybe well intended – but yes, stupid.

In the world of global trade, Canada is fumbling badly. We are not being taken seriously in trade discussions when our country’s first priority is to pander to selected liberal voters at home rather than seriously improve trade relationships abroad for the benefit of all Canadians.

Let’s remember, when it comes to trade, we don’t have the upper hand. We are the size of California. We are irrelevant (other than as a provider of energy – but I won’t digress into our failing export pipeline and LNG agendas). If Canada thinks it can impose its smug political social agenda on independent countries that have their own political agendas (and challenges) – and many times the population – we are clearly not all that smart. In the vast majority of cases, they do not need us. We need them.

China is in the middle of building 1,600 new coal-fired power plants. Meanwhile, we’re imposing carbon taxes that have driven many struggling Canadians into energy poverty. Yet, we’re asking China to respect the environment on our terms? Not going to happen.

We have supply chain management issues that distort the cost and value of many of our products, yet we haven’t come to the table with any viable solutions. Addressing such relevant issues would allow us to be taken more seriously in trade talks. Instead, goofball politics govern.

Canada’s negotiating team has one job, and one job only: to promote Canadian products, services and tourism to new and bigger markets. But their approach is turning us into a laughingstock on the world stage, rather than a trusted trade partner and coveted tourist destination.

Let’s be clear. We already have trade deals with most of the countries we are negotiating with. If these issues were really deal-breakers for Canada, why is China already our second-largest trading partner?

Would it be better if certain countries worked to improve their environmental and human rights records? Yes. Is it going to happen through a trade negotiation? No. Rather than trying to impose social and political standards that the other side isn’t going to respect, let alone agree to, how about getting busy with trade and tourism promotion?  

A key lesson from global research is that countries that engage in international commerce are more likely to improve political and civil liberties and quality of life. Why not present Canada as an ally open to working with its partners on these various issues through an expanded trade platform? Through trade, our values have the potential to develop further in these countries. But we have to expand our economic borders first.

Example: LNG export projects out of B.C. have been stalled for years. China is the second largest importer of LNG in the world. A thoughtful trade deal would not only boost Canada’s very important LNG sector, it would also help China move forward with its own home-grown anti-pollution agendathat is indeed already underway. We can help move along its existing pro-environment agenda by supplying more natural gas. Why not focus on that? (As well as our export pipeline and LNG terminal agendas.)

Our negotiating team has but one job, and they’re failing. The uncertainty generated by the current federal trade strategy is causing more businesses (from Canada and elsewhere) to sit on their wallets rather than invest.

Meanwhile, the American economy is outpacing Canada’s by every measure – including tax rates and structures that offer dramatically better incentives for those looking to deploy capital. That’s money that could be coaxed back to Canada if we get some trade deals right.

Let’s hope that we don’t learn the hard way that the prime minister’s personal soapbox has no place at the international trade table. Because the world – and the Canadian public – is logically saying enough is enough. “



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3 hours ago, Jaydee said:

In the world of global trade, Canada is fumbling badly.

Is that ever the truth

Edited by Fido

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Does not walk softly but he does carry a big stick.

Trump open to removing steel tariffs if he gets his way on NAFTA

Last week, Trump announced hefty new tariffs for imports of steel

CBC NewsPosted: Mar 05, 2018 8:20 AM ET Last Updated: Mar 05, 2018 8:58 AM ET

President Donald Trump listens during a meeting with steel and aluminum executives in the Cabinet Room of the White House on Thursday in Washington. Trump's announcement that he will impose stiff tariffs on imported steel and aluminum has upended political alliances on Capitol Hill. (The Associated Press)

U.S. President Donald Trump says he would only relieve Canada from the tariffs he has been threatening on steel and aluminum if a "new and fair" North American Free Trade Agreement is signed.

The president took to Twitter on Monday to reiterate his views that NAFTA, which is undergoing contentious renegotiations, is a job loser for the United States.

"We have large trade deficits with Mexico and Canada," he tweeted Monday morning. "Tariffs on steel and aluminum will only come off if new [and] fair NAFTA agreement is signed."

He added: "Also Canada must treat our farmers much better. Highly restrictive. Mexico must do much more on stopping drugs from pouring into the U.S. They have not done what needs to be done. Millions of people addicted and dying."



Last week, Trump announced hefty new national security tariffs for imports of steel, at 25 per cent, and 10 per cent for aluminum are on their way to boost U.S. manufacturers.

Canada has been seeking an exemption.

Last week Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the proposal "absolutely unacceptable" and warned of a "significant disruption" in the supply chain.

In 2017, the U.S. imported 26.9 million tonnes of steel, with 16 per cent of it coming from Canada.

A Canadian government official, speaking on background, said Canada believes any new tariffs should not apply to this country due to the highly integrated nature of the North American steel market, and because of the close co-operation between the two countries on defence issues.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland tweeted that she spoke with Rep. Kevin Brady, the Texan Republican who chairs the powerful ways and means committee, about the trade relationship between the two countries. 

Brady has been one of the vocal opponents, within Trump's party, to the blanket tariffs.

NAFTA talks continue

The political leaders from Canada, the U.S. and Mexico who are overseeing the negotiating process meet today as the seventh round of NAFTA negotiations continue.

Plans are in the works to schedule an eighth round of talks in the U.S. in late March.

During the Sunday talk show rounds, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said some industries could get exemptions.

"There'll be an exemption procedure for particular cases where we need to have exemptions so business can move forward," Navarro said on CNN.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told NBC's Meet the Press that Trump could change his mind on the tariffs, but he didn't think he would.

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I would bet they wanted to kill NAFTA and got to bilaterals all along.




NAFTA: U.S. in a hurry to complete talks quickly, and do bilaterals if necessary

The Canadian Press
Published Monday, March 5, 2018 4:06PM EST
Last Updated Monday, March 5, 2018 4:25PM EST

MEXICO CITY -- The United States says it's in a hurry to finish NAFTA negotiations quickly, for several reasons.

If it can't finish those negotiations quickly, the U.S. says it wants to negotiate separate deals with Canada and Mexico.

U.S. trade czar Robert Lighthizer made the remarks at the end of a round of talks in Mexico.


Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland leaves the stage with United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, right, and Mexico's Secretary of Economy Ildefonso Guajardo Villarrea after delivering statements to the media during the sixth round of negotiations for a new North American Free Trade Agreement in Montreal, Monday, January 29, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

He says he's unsatisfied that only six chapters have been completed so far, when there are 30 to complete -- including a newly announced energy chapter.

Lighthizer cites several reasons for the rush.

They include national elections in Mexico in early summer, U.S. midterms in the fall, and the desire to get a new agreement ratified under the current Republican-controlled U.S. Congress.


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Where are all those fine Canadians that were so opposed to NAFTA back when it was brought in?

I remember the whining and protests saying we would loose thousand upon thousands of jobs if NAFTA came to pass.

I don't see anyone standing up now and saying cancel NAFTA.

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Canadians have been paying through the nose for the NAFTA regulations that were enacted; consider how much more an auto built in Oakville has cost in Canada over the course of the agreement versus the sticker price placed on the same vehicle after it is shipped to the American market as a for instance.


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48 minutes ago, DEFCON said:

versus the sticker price placed on the same vehicle after it is shipped to the American market

German friends could not believe how cheap it was to buy a VW Jetta in Canada compared to Germany.  Other German friends on moving to Florida ended up buying a higher end BMW than they thought they could afford.  Friends in the Middle East are all shocked at how cheap the price is on Mercedes.

I do not know exactly how it works but vehicles always seem to be cheaper in other countries than in their home country. 

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U.S. steel, aluminum tariffs won't apply to Canada or Mexico right away, Trump adviser says

Comments come after White House press secretary says exemptions would be made on 'case-by-case basis'

The Associated PressPosted: Mar 08, 2018 7:35 AM ET Last Updated: Mar 08, 2018 8:07 AM ET

Peter Navarro, Donald Trump's trade and manufacturing adviser, says the U.S. president plans to sign a proclamation including a clause favouring Canada and Mexico on the tariffs issue. (Andrew Harnik/Associated Press)

Donald Trump's trade and manufacturing adviser says the U.S. president's planned tariffs for steel and aluminum imports would not immediately apply to Canada and Mexico.

Peter Navarro told Fox Business on Wednesday evening that Trump intends to sign a proclamation including such a clause favouring the two neighbouring countries.

Navarro said the tariffs would go into effect within 15 to 30 days.

Trump tweeted about the matter early on Thursday morning.


White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters on Wednesday that exemptions to the proposed tariffs would be made on a "case-by-case" and "country-by-country" basis, a reversal from the policy articulated by the White House just days ago that there would be no exemptions from Trump's plan.

Congressional Republicans and business groups have been bracing for the impact of expected tariffs of 25 per cent on imported steel and 10 per cent on aluminum, appearing resigned to additional protectionist trade actions as Trump signalled upcoming economic battles with China.

The looming departure of White House economic adviser Gary Cohn, a former Goldman Sachs executive who has opposed the promised tariffs, set off anxiety among business leaders and investors worried about a potential trade war.

"We urge you to reconsider the idea of broad tariffs to avoid unintended negative consequences to the U.S. economy and its workers," 107 House Republicans wrote in a letter to Trump.

At the White House, officials were working to include language in the tariffs that would give Trump the flexibility to approve exemptions for certain countries.

"He's already indicated a degree of flexibility, I think a very sensible, very balanced degree of flexibility," Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told CNBC. "We're not trying to blow up the world."

'Acting swiftly'

Trump has signalled that other trade actions could be in the works.

In a tweet, he said the "U.S. is acting swiftly on Intellectual Property theft." A White House official said Trump was referencing an ongoing investigation of China in which the U.S. trade representative is studying whether Chinese intellectual property rules are "unreasonable or discriminatory" to American business.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said an announcement on the findings of the report — and possible retaliatory actions — was expected within the next three weeks.

Business leaders, meanwhile, continued to sound the alarm about the potential economic fallout from tariffs, with the president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce raising the spectre of a global trade war. That scenario, Tom Donohue said, would endanger the economic momentum from the Republican tax cuts and Trump's rollback of regulations.

"We urge the administration to take this risk seriously," Donohue said.

The president has said the tariffs are needed to reinforce lagging American steel and aluminum industries and protect national security. He has tried to use the tariffs as leverage in ongoing talks to revise the North American Free Trade Agreement, suggesting Canada and Mexico might be exempted from tariffs if they offer more favourable terms under NAFTA.

Story Link:

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April 1, 2018 9:00 am

‘We’re not by any stretch out of the woods’ on NAFTA: Andrew Leslie

By Monique Scotti National Online Journalist, Politics  Global News 

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs Andrew Leslie tells Eric Sorensen that NAFTA negotiations, including those on automobiles and dairy, are close to a final deal but will take an enormous amount of work to be able to “get this across the finish line.” 

To say that there have been some mixed signals on the status of the NAFTA negotiations over the past week would be an understatement.

On Wednesday, U.S. chief negotiator Robert Lighthizer suggested that the parties were heading for a deal sooner rather than later. But the same day, Canadian envoy Steve Verheul said that’s not quite true, telling reporters that there’s still lots of work ahead.

WATCH: ‘Significant’ work to be done on ‘core issues’ says Canadian negotiator

So, which is it? According to Andrew Leslie, the parliamentary secretary to Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, it’s both.

“Both points of view are very legitimate,” said Leslie in an interview with Global’s Eric Sorensen.

“At the strategic level, Mr. Lighthizer has quite correctly identified the fact that a whole bunch of very interesting ideas have been put on the table in the very recent past by our American colleagues and there’s momentum.”

READ MORE: Canadians believe U.S. could be ready to accept NAFTA compromise

But, he cautioned, “we’re not by any stretch out of the woods” as the Mexican presidential election kicks off and the American midterms loom this fall. The potential political shifts in both countries reportedly have negotiators in the U.S. scrambling to get a NAFTA deal done. At the same time, the U.S. is in the process of approving President Donald Trump‘s new pick for Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo.

“We’ve told our American and our Mexican colleagues (that) our teams are on standby to go to Washington and to work 24/7 as required to get this across the finish line,” Leslie said.

One of the biggest sticking points for weeks has been rules of origin in the automotive industry. Leslie said there are teams in Washington right now working on that difficult file, and as a result, he won’t comment further.

“We don’t want to negotiate in public, not when we’re so close … We’re not across the finishing line yet for automobiles.”

Asked if Canada is trying to slow the pace of negotiations in response to the various scandals swirling around Trump and the possibility that his presidency could somehow be cut short, Leslie said that couldn’t be further from the truth.

“We are absolutely categorically not ragging the puck,” he told Sorensen.

“We are ready to work constructively, to put good ideas on the table. And to listen to their increasingly good ideas or ideas that are moving more towards centre on certain specific issues.”

READ MORE: These provinces will be most (and least) hurt if NAFTA is terminated

The next round of talks was expected to happen this week in Washington, but no formal invitations had been sent out as of Friday. For now, Leslie said, Canada will simply continue to push for a renewal of the trade pact with anyone in the U.S. who will listen.

“In these complex negotiations, nothing counts until it’s over,” he said. “Until everyone signs.”

— Watch the full interview with Parliamentary Secretary

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NAFTA talks are at a 'decisive moment,' Freeland says

Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said NAFTA renegotiation talks have reached a critical juncture and she's hopeful a meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in D.C. this week will offer the push needed to secure a "win-win" deal for all sides.

U.S. ambassador to Canada says she's 'confident we will get a deal'

John Paul Tasker · CBC News · Posted: Apr 04, 2018 5:38 PM ET | Last Updated: 11 hours ago

As China and the U.S. are locked in a tense standoff over tariffs, Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said today NAFTA renegotiation talks have reached a critical juncture — and she's hoping a meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in D.C. this week will be the push that secures a "win-win" deal for all sides.

Freeland, speaking at a luncheon hosted by the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce, was reluctant to shed much light on the specifics of the late-stage trade talks, but said securing an agreement on the "fiendishly complex" rules of origin for autos last month was a welcome development as NAFTA renegotiations came down to the wire.

Last month, U.S. negotiators dropped a demand that all vehicles made in Canada and Mexico bound for the U.S. market contain at least 50 per cent American-made components.

"We're getting to what I hope is quite a decisive moment in the negotiations," Freeland said. "As you have been reading, I think that we are making some good progress.

"We made progress on rules of origins for autos, which, in my view, is both the most fiendishly complex part of the negotiation but also the heart of it. The fact that we were able to make some progress is promising."

Sources have told CBC News the Americans are eager to sign an agreement in principle on NAFTA next week in Peru, where the leaders of the three NAFTA nations — U.S. President Donald Trump, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto — will be attending the Summit of the Americas.

The final details of a deal could then be hammered out by negotiators at a planned meeting in Washington, although the details of this round of talks have not yet been finalized.

Under that timeline, a new NAFTA deal could be presented to U.S. lawmakers in Congress before new representatives take office next January following mid-term elections. U.S. trade law requires a six-month consultation period with congressional committees before a final vote on a ratified NAFTA.

There are fears the new Congress could be awash in progressive, and protectionist, legislators who might be less likely to a sign a new trade deal — the fallout of an anti-Trump wave that could sweep many pro-trade Republicans out of office in the November midterms.

'Significant progress'

Speaking in Toronto Wednesday, U.S. Ambassador to Canada Kelly Knight Craft also sounded a positive note when speaking about the trade deal.

"I'm confident we will get a deal that everyone feels good about," she said. "I've yet to meet a Canadian who thinks the 23-year-old agreement is perfect. It's like a solid house, it needs to be updated to reflect the 21st century standards and realities, but there's no reason to tear it down.

U.S. Ambassador to Canada Kelly Craft says that despite issues on both sides, she is confident that there will be a deal. 1:26

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, told reporters Wednesday the three parties have made "significant progress" on a final deal.

Mexico's Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo was holding talks with Lighthizer in Washington on Wednesday ahead of a planned trilateral meeting that will include Freeland, the Mexican government said in a statement.

At the same time, it added, Mexico's Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray will be in Washington to meet President Trump's son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner.

Moises Kalach, a senior member of the CCE business lobby — which represents Mexico's private sector in the talks to revise NAFTA — said he expects signs of progress even if ministers do not reach a formal agreement.  Link to story and Video.

The United States "is in more of a rush than before ... the window of opportunity is now open. It's a couple of weeks," Kalach said on Mexican television.

"We expect that between two to three weeks ... there is a process so that there is a chance to close."

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"There are fears the new Congress could be awash in progressive, and protectionist, legislators who might be less likely to a sign a new trade deal — the fallout of an anti-Trump wave that could sweep many pro-trade Republicans out of office in the November midterms."

Only Canadians could come up with an irrational fear like that.


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NAFTA is doomed and it's all 'notoriously unpleasant' Canada's fault



All of which means that the consensus at the conference was that the Americans hold all the cards and imminent elections in the U.S. and Mexico this year mean nothing substantive will happen unless Mexico and Canada cave to all tough American demands.

“The game plan is that Canada and Mexico will walk away, then the U.S. can say the President tried to make it work for Americans,” commented Dick Cunningham, international trade partner at Steptoe & Johnson in Washington D.C.

Underlying the talks is the reality that Trump’s economic agenda is to change or leave NAFTA, and to retain tariffs against China and against steel and aluminum from many countries, including Canada and Mexico (exempted until May 1).

The likeliest scenario appears to be that the three will ink an Agreement in Principle and punt talks until 2019.

“By May 1, if there is no Agreement in Principle, the U.S. will reinstate steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada and Mexico, talks will break down and that will allow Trump to walk away,” said Cunningham.

U.S. anger against NAFTA is strictly against Mexico with its low wages which is why, I have argued, Canada should have sided with the U.S. toward Mexico.

“We opposed NAFTA in 1994,” former Canadian Autoworkers Union leader Buzz Hargrove told the conference. “Where was Donald Trump when we needed him?”

He recited the degree of hollowing out that NAFTA has wreaked in Canada.

We lost 100,000 jobs in Canada, our deficit with Mexico has gone up four-fold to $18 billion a year, there has been zero investment in the past five years in the auto sector in Canada and Mexico now produces 80 per cent of the cars in North America,” he said.

The only solution, he added, is that NAFTA must require Mexicans to allow unions to organize their workers and dramatically increase wages to level the playing field.

By contrast, the American strategy is to make doing business in Mexico impossible by demanding wage hikes, by capping production, and by scrapping the dispute resolution mechanism. American negotiator Robert Lighthizer describes the dispute clause (that Canada supports) as a job-robber that provides “government risk insurance for foreign outsourcing.”

Canada should agree to drop the clause and also agree to shut the backdoor entry by trade cheaters into the steel, aluminum and auto parts sectors.

If this is done, compromises on the other issues – dairy and lumber – will be easier.

The reality is that NAFTA is doomed. Without massive wage concessions in Mexico, NAFTA will never pass Congress even if a Democratic majority is elected this fall. And if wage concessions by Mexico are dramatic, it will never pass Mexico’s Senate either.

The best option is simply to reboot the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement and rekindle the special relationship.



Edited by Jaydee

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'Nowhere near close:' U.S. rebuffs Trudeau hope for quick NAFTA deal

The United States declared the NAFTA countries were nowhere close to a deal, in a statement Thursday designed to douse expectations that an agreement might be just a few minor adjustments away.

U.S. trade czar Robert Lighthizer cites 'gaping differences' after Trudeau says a 'good deal' is on the table

Alexander Panetta · The Canadian Press · Posted: May 18, 2018 7:33 AM ET | Last Updated: 2 hours ago.The United States declared the NAFTA countries were nowhere close to a deal, in a statement Thursday designed to douse expectations that an agreement might be just a few minor adjustments away.

It rebuffed an effort from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, and several high-ranking staffers who were in the U.S. on Thursday urging a quick deal.

U.S. trade czar Robert Lighthizer rejected the idea that an agreement was within imminent reach. He cited big differences on intellectual property, agriculture, online purchases, energy, labour, rules of origin and other issues.

"The NAFTA countries are nowhere near close to a deal.... There are gaping differences," Lighthizer said in an evening statement.

"We of course will continue to engage in negotiations, and I look forward to working with my counterparts to secure the best possible deal for American farmers, ranchers, workers, and businesses."

All three countries agreed that they would keep negotiating beyond Thursday, a date that had been presented as a procedural deadline for getting a deal to the U.S. Congress for a vote this year.

The reason Canada, Mexico and some in the U.S. want a deal wrapped up has to do with creating certainty, in terms of business confidence, and to settle the process before elections in Mexico and the U.S. stall progress until next year.

Some fear delay will add political unpredictability, since many of the politicians now involved will no longer be in politics next year: Mexico will have a new administration, the U.S. will have a new Congress after midterm elections, and several senior American lawmakers are retiring.

Trudeau had spent the day promoting the idea that an agreement was now within reach.

Trudeau says 'we're close to a deal'

Trudeau received a call from U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday night in which they discussed the NAFTA negotiations, but a readout provided by the prime minister's office did not include any details.

Canada's case lay on a strand of seemingly linear logic. Canada's argument went that if the U.S. claims to be reopening NAFTA specifically to deal with its trade deficit, and if the leading cause of that trade deficit with Mexico involves autos, and if the autos issue is almost solved, then the Americans could walk away right now with a win.

"We are close to a deal," the prime minister said in New York. "We are down to a point where there is a good deal on the table."

Trudeau admitted to being unsure whether a deal would take days, weeks, or be put off indefinitely. In any case, he said he was ready to keep negotiating: "We'll keep working until they shut off the lights."

Trudeau drew another public contradiction Thursday — this one from Mexico.

The Mexican government scolded the prime minister over an element of the sales pitch he delivered in New York: Trudeau argued that the autos changes would help the U.S. by bringing back some Mexican jobs.

In the midst of a presidential election campaign in that country, and facing its own political pressures at home, the Mexican government publicly challenged Canada's prime minister.

"A clarification is necessary," Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo tweeted. "Any renegotiated NAFTA that implies losses of existing Mexican jobs is unacceptable."

Deal or no deal on NAFTA: Canada and U.S. send mixed messages
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says there's a good deal on the table, however Robert Lighthizer, the United States Trade Representative, says they are nowhere close to a deal. 3:02

Now it appears the U.S. is settling in for harder bargaining on issues like pharmaceuticals, dairy and online duty-free purchases. Lighthizer's statement did not mention a pair of other sticking points — dispute resolution and a so-called sunset clause.

In an appearance on the Fox Business Network, Trudeau had ridiculed the sunset clause idea, which would see NAFTA automatically end in five years unless all countries agree to extend it.

Trudeau used an example designed to appeal to a certain former real estate developer who is now the U.S. president; he compared the termination clause to building a skyscraper on a parcel of land you might lose in five years.

Lighthizer's statement also did not mention the threat of steel and aluminum tariffs — which are, at this point, scheduled to take effect June 1.

Those impending tariffs, the July 1 Mexican election and the U.S. congressional calendar had all created pressure for an imminent deal.

Top U.S. lawmaker Paul Ryan had declared Thursday as the last date for meeting the procedural deadlines for a vote this year. On Thursday, he revised that slightly.

Ryan clarified that if the independent body in the U.S. tasked with analyzing trade deals managed to assess the new NAFTA faster than legally required, in theory, an agreement could still get to the floor for a vote in this Congress.

Some in the Canadian government have mused about the potential strategic benefits of dragging out the talks. However that calculus has been tempered by Bank of Canada analysis that trade uncertainty is hurting the economy, reducing business investment by about two per cent and the overall gross domestic product by about 0.2 per cent this year.

That uncertainty has been compounded by the tariff threats.

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May 31, 2018 7:44 am

Updated: May 31, 2018 7:51 am

U.S. imposes steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada

img_6786-e1496082127611.jpg?quality=60&s By Maham Abedi National Online Journalist, Breaking News  Global News
News: Trump set to impose steel, aluminum tariffs on Canadax

The United States has decided to end steel and aluminum tariff exemptions for Canada, the country’s Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced Thursday.

READ MORE: Canada beefs up steel, aluminum dumping restrictions ahead of U.S. decision on tariffs

Canada, Mexico and the European Union were exempted from import duties of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminum when they were first imposed in March, but those exemptions were set to expire Friday.

The tariffs kick in midnight, but there will be some flexibility and continued negotiations, Ross said.

“We look forward to continued negotiations, both with Canada and Mexico on the one hand, and with the European Commission on the other hand, because there are other issues that we also need to get resolved,” Ross said during the announcement.

In the case of Canada and Mexico, he said the decision was based on making progress in the ongoing North American Free Trade Agreement talks, which are taking longer than anticipated.

WATCH: Unifor president says it’s still unclear who would be affected by U.S. auto tariffs.

U.S. President Donald Trump had imposed the tariffs earlier this year, saying his country had been treated “badly” in trade relations.

At the time, Trump also cited national security reasons for the tariffs.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has hinted that Canada will retaliate.

Two government sources told Global News that Canada has considered several actions, and that a decision will be made after discussions with relevant ministers and premiers.

The Trump administration also launched a national security investigation last week into auto imports, using the same law that he applied to steel and aluminum.

READ MORE: Canada ready with list of possible targets if Trump’s steel tariffs go into effect

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pushed back Tuesday, saying the tariff threats are “negotiating tactics” amid NAFTA negotiations.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated.

— With a file from The Canadian Press, Global News reporter Amanda

Story Link includes video and commentary by Trudeau:

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‎Today, ‎May ‎31, ‎2018, ‏‎14 minutes ago

John Ivison: Steel tariffs deal a blow to Trudeau’s reputation as the Trump Whisperer

‎Today, ‎May ‎31, ‎2018, ‏‎31 minutes ago | John Ivison

Justin Trudeau’s reputation as the “Trump whisperer” looks to be in tatters after the U.S. president rebuffed efforts by Canada to have the two leaders meet this week in Washington, and the concern in Ottawa is that the meeting of the heads of G7 governments in Charlevoix, Que. next week — the pinnacle of Canada’s G7 presidency — may also be teetering on disaster.

On Thursday morning U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced sweeping tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, Mexico and the European Union. It appears Trudeau was unable to repeat the eleventh-hour intervention which in March earned Canada a temporary exemption from the U.S.’s blanket tariffs of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminum. That reprieve was tied to a renewed North American Free Trade Agreement, but a deal has not been forthcoming and is not expected anytime soon. Ross cited a lack of progress on NAFTA, as well as national security concerns, as the reasons for the tariffs.

“There was a fair bit of effort to get Trudeau to Washington but it didn’t materialize,” said one person familiar with the matter. “Reasonable speculation is that the Americans didn’t want to give us another extension.”

The fear in Ottawa is that the tariffs will create such a hostile environment for Trump in Charlevoix that he may not even show up. France immediately labelled the U.S.’s actions “unjustifiable and dangerous.”

It is expected that if all sides do attend, Canada will try to act as an honest broker and attempt to work out a compromise — but the prime minister’s influence with the Trump Administration may not be what it was.

One senior official said the idea that Trump rebuffed Trudeau is inaccurate. The two men have spoken 30 times as leaders, the official said, and had talked about meeting if there was an end point in sight to the NAFTA negotiations. However, Trump has rejected the idea of a “skinny” NAFTA — essentially a deal on autos and agricultural access that would not require Congressional approval. As such, the two sides decided it was not the right time to get together.

“It’s fair to say it’s not going to come together imminently,” said the official. “The U.S. is still looking for unilateral wins.”

Trump remains rigid on his insistence on a sunset clause that would require a renegotiation of the trade deal every five years, and on ditching the Chapter 19 dispute-resolution clause that created the bi-national expert panel which adjudicates trade disagreements between NAFTA member nations.

That may be the case, but when the U.S. granted Canada its exemption in March, Canadian officials were quick to credit Trudeau’s call to Trump as the pivotal intervention.

The failure to repeat the feat suggests that Trudeau’s powers of persuasion with the president are waning while the influence of the arch-protectionists around Trump, like U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, are waxing.

Lighthizer is the first USTR in American history who appears to want to roll back trade liberalization and re-balance U.S. trade policy by forcing American multinationals investing overseas to repatriate their capital.

Canada is keen to portray the new tariffs as a U.S. decision aimed at the whole world, rather than something that is Canada-specific. But it is clear that the tariff exemption was being used as a bargaining chip in the NAFTA negotiations.

Those negotiations are now at an impasse. Chrystia Freeland, the Global Affairs minister, returned to Ottawa from Washington after a two hour meeting with Lighthizer Wednesday, with nothing much to show for her trip. The two countries remain at loggerheads over a range of issues beyond the sunset clause and Chapter 19, including government procurement and intellectual property provisions.Speculation in Ottawa suggests Lighthizer doesn’t want a deal and believes a Democrat-dominated House of Representatives that may emerge after the U.S. mid-term elections in November could give him leverage to extract an even better deal.

The real fear is not steel and aluminum tariffs but the threat of import vehicle tariffs of up to 25 per cent on autos entering the U.S. Earlier this month, Trump ordered Ross to launch an investigation into car and truck imports under an obscure provision in U.S. trade law that allows it to levy tariffs on imports it deems a threat to national security.

“That is exponentially more significant,” said one source.

The threat of higher duties has led to much hand-wringing inside government about how to respond without hurting Canadian producers. “This government has been remarkably constructive — no public positions criticizing the Americans or making fun of Trump. They have done everything humanly possible to deal rationally with this Trump administration. But at what point does Canada say, ‘Enough is enough?’” said the source.

In the event Ottawa decides to act, the government has already drawn up plans for retaliatory measures that would impose quotas on U.S. steel. A registered notice of targeted products, not limited to steel, has been drawn up and is ready to go.

Surreal as it may seem, Canada is about to engage in a trade war with the United States.

• Email: | Twitter: IvisonJ

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3 hours ago, Jaydee said:

At some point voting for stupidity..aka Trudeau...has a price attached to it. Looks like the time has arrived.

Jaydee to be fair, this would have happened no matter who was our PM. It is all about the US and Trump. Here is a link to our PM addressing the tariffs.

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This is what happens when you start off negotiations of an ECONOMIC agreement with a bunch of socialist demands that have ZERO to do with the subject matter under discussion. AKA....a push for “progressive” chapters on the environment, labour, gender rights and Indigenous relations. WTF were they thinking and why is anybody surprised at the results ?

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1 hour ago, Jaydee said:

This is what happens when you start off negotiations of an ECONOMIC agreement with a bunch of socialist demands that have ZERO to do with the subject matter under discussion. AKA....a push for “progressive” chapters on the environment, labour, gender rights and Indigenous relations. WTF were they thinking and why is anybody surprised at the results ?

Not surprised at all but the outcome would likely have been the same with a different approach.  We are the small, very small creature sharing the room with a very large and wild elephant / donkey south of us.

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4 hours ago, Malcolm said:

Not surprised at all but the outcome would likely have been the same with a different approach.  We are the small, very small creature sharing the room with a very large and wild elephant / donkey south of us.

And even more reason to tread carefully before you get squashed like an ant. Canadians will pay HUGE for this idiots mistake, but as Wolfhunter says, they will get what they voted for which is the square root of ZERO.

Edited by Jaydee

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For all Trudeau's efforts to be the Trump Whisperer, Canada is now fighting a trade war

The concern in Ottawa is that the meeting of the heads of G7 governments in Quebec next week may now be teetering on disaster.


Surreal as it may seem, Canada is now engaged in a trade war with the United States because Donald Trump deems this country a threat to America’s security.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced sweeping tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, Mexico and the European Union on Thursday morning. He cited lack of progress on North America Free Trade Agreement talks as the reason for the tariffs, but they were applied under an obscure provision in the U.S. trade law that allows the administration to levy duties on imports it deems a threat to national security.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland held an impromptu press conference Thursday afternoon to announce retaliatory measures worth $16.6 billion. Trudeau said using a national security provision as an excuse was an “affront” to a long-standing security partnership between the two countries and all those Canadians who fought and died alongside their American comrades-in-arms in two World Wars, Korea and Afghanistan.

“The government of Canada is confident that shared values, geography and common interest will overcome protectionism,” he said.



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Canadian aluminum shows its mettle in face of Trump's tariff

Tariffs notwithstanding, the U.S. will remain totally dependent on Canadian aluminum, which accounts for half of all aluminum used in U.S. manufacturing. U.S. producers are in no position to displace Canadian producers, even at maximum capacity. They are also far less efficient.

Industry analyst says Trump just wrote the Canadian aluminum industry 'a cheque for $600 million'

Evan Dyer · CBC News · Posted: Jun 01, 2018 4:00 AM ET | Last Updated: 4 hours ago
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks to workers and reporters at a news conference during a visit of the Rio Tinto AP60 aluminum plant Monday, March 12, 2018 in Saguenay Que. Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, left, and Dubuc MNA Serge Simard, right, look on. (Jacques Boissinot/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Trade actions like the ones taken by the Trump administration this week are intended to inflict pain, and the steel and aluminum tariffs levied by the Trump administration are unwelcome developments for both industries in Canada.

But the harm will fall disproportionately on producers of steel, rather than aluminum — and not only because the tariff on steel (25 per cent) is higher than the one on aluminum (10 per cent).

The United States is in a much weaker position to hurt Canadian aluminum producers than it is to punish Canadian steelmakers. Indeed, the likely reason for the lower tariff on aluminum is that the Trump administration realizes it's American consumers, not Canadian producers, who will end up paying for it.

In fact, the top U.S. aluminum industry consultant says the tariff has, so far, actually enriched Canadian aluminum producers.

The U.S. is going to lose more jobs than it gains. No question about it.- Jorge Vasquez, Harbor Aluminum

That's because they responded to the announcement in March by factoring the tariff into their prices, and then essentially pocketed that 10 per cent surcharge during the two months that Canada enjoyed a tariff exemption.

"Trump wrote a cheque for $600 million to Canadian aluminum producers," said Jorge Vasquez of Harbor Aluminum in Austin, Tex., who has served as an adviser to both the U.S. International Trade Commission and the Canadian Trade Tribunal.

In effect, Trump's actions transferred more than half a billion dollars from the U.S. economy to Canada's since March.

Rivers of aluminum

The economic folly of the aluminum tariff doesn't stop there.

Key to understanding the counterproductive nature of this move, say industry watchers, is the inherent Canadian advantage bestowed by its abundant hydroelectric resources.

Aluminum is made from bauxite, a raw material Canada has very little of (almost half of the world's reserves are in Guinea or Australia).

The other main input is electricity. Canada — especially Quebec — produces a lot of cheap hydro. The mighty rivers of Quebec are the foundation of Canada's aluminum industry.

U.S. electricity rates are much higher. The price differential for this critical input far outweighs the cost of a 10 per cent tariff.

That's why U.S. industry buys half of its aluminum from Canada — nearly four times as much as it buys from its own producers.

The 14 U.S. aluminum smelters are typically older, smaller, and less cost-efficient than their counterparts in Canada, not to mention the ones in China and Russia. More than half of them are either closed or operating well below capacity.

Just one Canadian smelter — Aluminerie Alouette Inc. in Sept-Iles, Que. — comes close to equalling the entire output of the U.S. aluminum industry.jorge-vasquez.PNGJorge Vasquez of Harbor Aluminum. "The U.S. needs Canadian production." (Harbor Aluminum)

"This is not going to make the U.S. smelting industry more competitive. Not even artificially competitive," Vasquez told CBC News.

"The U.S. is going to lose more jobs than it gains. No question about it."

American smelters produced 740,000 tonnes of aluminum last year. Vasquez forecasts U.S. production of 840,000 tonnes this year, and close to a million the year after. But the U.S. imported 2,760,000 million tonnes last year from Canada.

"The U.S. needs Canadian production," said Vasquez.

Big players are insulated

Jean Simard, president of the Aluminum Association of Canada, agrees.

"Tomorrow, they (U.S. buyers) still need that same metal. They're just going to pay more for it," he told CBC.

"The primary producers, the Alcoas, Rio Tintos and Alouettes who own the ten smelters that export about 90 per cent of their capacity to the U.S., are actively involved in totally integrated value chains in the automotive, aerospace and consumer goods industries in the US, so they will maintain their channels."

Simard said that the increase in metal prices will be passed on to American consumers through everything from cars to beer cans.

"This is like a spiral of inflation that's beginning, and it will be to the detriment of the whole U.S. economy."

Even if they ramped up production to maximum capacity, Vasquez said, U.S. smelters probably could only add about 2,000 jobs. He predicts the tariff will cause between 23,000 and 90,000 direct job losses in manufacturing.

And he said the threat of tariffs has contributed already to a sharp rise in the price of aluminum on the London Metals Exchange — meaning more profits for Canadian companies.

"The price the Canadian producers were getting last year prior to the duty is lower than the price they're getting today, even with the duties."

Scrap will 'cannibalize' any gains

But meagre as the gains appear to be for the U.S. job market, Vasquez said a secondary effect that will kick in as the market adjusts to higher prices will wipe even those jobs out.

Aluminum is one of the world's most recycled products. Scrap accounts for most aluminum production. Primary aluminum from smelters merely makes up the shortfalls.

Vasquez said that rising prices always prompt a great effort to recover scrap.

"We estimate that the 10 per cent duty alone will generate close to one million tons of additional scrap recovery, which will displace about 800,000 tonnes of primary aluminum."

"The bottom-line intention of this duty is the restart of all of the idle smelters in the U.S., but what this is going to do really is incentivize more generation of scrap, which is going to unwind over the next 24 months any smelter restart. Because the more scrap you generate, the more primary aluminum production you cannibalize or destroy."

As the demand for primary aluminum declines, the least-effficient producers will be the first to suffer. That means U.S. producers.

Eventually, Simard said, Canadian producers could end up sharing some of the cost of the tariff with their partners along the supply chain. But U.S. dependence on Canadian aluminum will not diminish, and rising aluminum prices seem likely to handsomely compensate Canadian smelters for any loss they incur down the road.

Vasquez said he believes the end-user — the American consumer — will continue to absorb the cost of the tariff.

Both he and Simard agree on one thing: this aluminum tariff is best understood as a new tax on U.S. manufacturers and consumers, rather than a killer blow to Canada's modern and efficient aluminum industry.

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Alberta calls U.S. tariffs on steel ‘insulting, absurd’

Notley backs federal retaliation as ‘incentive’ to end Trump strategy

  • Calgary Herald
  • 1 Jun 2018


As a trade battle erupts between Canada and the United States over steel and aluminum, Alberta’s NDP government is lashing the Trump administration’s “absurd” and “insulting ” tariffs and offering its support to Ottawa as it faces down the U.S president.

Donald Trump followed through on a longstanding threat Thursday, as Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross announced the U.S. would end the temporary exemption on Canadian, Mexican and European Union steel and aluminum and impose import duties of 25 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively, at midnight June 1.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland announced in turn that Canada would retaliate “dollar-for-dollar” as of July 1 with $16.6 billion in tariffs on U.S. steel, aluminum and a host of other products ranging from yogurt to felt-tipped pens.

In Fort McMurray to talk about pipelines, Notley said the Americans’ “unpredictable behaviour” showed the need to diversify markets for Alberta’s energy resources and end the oilpatch’s overwhelming reliance on the U.S. as a customer.

The premier also offered support for Trudeau’s countermeasures.

“If it gets to that point, it is important for us to make the point about how integrated our economies are and to ensure there is an incentive for folks on the other side of the border to pressure their government to move away from this strategy,” Notley told reporters.

“We’ll be working with the federal government to come up with the best strategy to underline the amount of economic disruption which occurs on both sides of the border when our economic relationships are jeopardized like this.”

Notley said Alberta would also seek exemptions from the tariffs for certain projects but gave no further detail. The NDP government said later that the premier was referring to previous calls from the Pacific NorthWest Economic Region for a permanent exemption for Canada from American tariffs on steel and aluminum.

At the legislature, Deron Bilous, minister of economic development and trade, had harsher words, slamming Trump’s decision to impose the duties under national security provisions as “absurd” and “insulting.”

He said Alberta fully supports Ottawa’s actions, with the 30-day window before Canada’s retaliatory measures kick in allowing for complaints to be filed with the World Trade Organization.

“It gives the U.S., as well, an opportunity to walk this back,” Bilous told reporters.

The government held a conference call Thursday afternoon with Alberta businesses that are major steel consumers, including construction companies and oilpatch players such as Encana and Suncor.

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers called the American actions a “troubling development.”

“Steel is important in every part of the oil and gas industry, from drilling, production, processing, storage and transportation utilizing pipelines,” Nick Schultz, CAPP’s vice-president, pipeline regulation and general counsel, said in a statement.

“These imposed tariffs on steel imports will add a significant cost burden to the industry on both sides of the border as Canada intends to impose surtaxes or similar trade-restrictive countermeasures against the United States as a response.”

Alberta’s steel and aluminum production is relatively small, with exports of $500 million worth of steel going to the U.S. each year, but the new tariffs will have immediate consequences on the local industry.

“We’re shipping steel to California for some work and I imagine that’s going to stop completely,” said Robin Furlong, who runs Furlong Steel of Calgary.

“It wouldn’t make financial sense for California to buy off me because I would be shipping steel down to the States. Shipping steel down to the States will be taxed more. So that’s probably not going to happen anymore.”

International trade expert Hugh Stephens, an executive fellow at the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy, said the impact will be felt by anyone who exports steel.

“A 25 per cent tariff on products, if it comes immediately, all these things disrupt business, clearly,” he said. “It’s going to make Alberta exports, or Canadian exports in these particular areas, more expensive. In theory it’s supposed to defend the U.S. production base, but are they going to find alternate suppliers in the U.S.? Maybe, but that will take time. It won’t happen immediately.

“Depending on the product, they may have no option but to swallow and pay the tariff and pass that on to their customers. At the end of the day, it’s bad for exporters and it’s bad for U.S. consumers.”

Furlong said retaliatory tariffs on the American steel industry by Canada could help offset the loss of U.S. business.

“I have a competitor that’s in Chicago that beats the hell out of my pricing all the time because Alberta labour’s pretty expensive,” he said. “So if there’s a tax of buying over the border, (Canadians) would have to buy local because it wouldn’t be competitive anymore.”

Carlo Dade, trade expert with the Canada West Foundation, said while the “insane” U.S. measures will hit Alberta now, the bigger concern is what it means for trade relations in the long run.

Trump has not only repeatedly threatened to pull the U.S. out of NAFTA, there are major questions over how he would respond to a likely American loss at the World Trade Organization, Dade said.

“It is absolutely frightening,” he said. “If they lose at the WTO, do they then go after the World Trade Organization?”

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