President Trump hosted one of his first meetings centered on international trade recently as he met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the White House. For Canada, this was probably the most important political meeting in decades. Currently, 75 percent of all Canadian exports, including 98 percent of its oil exports, go to the United States, and 18 percent of all American exports head to the Great White North.
At a press conference following their meeting, the two leaders clarified that although President Trump would like to reform the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that covers American trade with Canada and Mexico, he’s much more concerned about the U.S. trade imbalance with its neighbor to the South than with Canada.
Trump specifically called U.S.-Canadian trade imbalances “much less severe” than U.S.-Mexican ones, but said that trade rules with Canada will likely be “tweaked” when NAFTA is ultimately renegotiated.
Even if NAFTA were to be repealed entirely, Canada and the U.S. would still be tied together due to a 1987 trade treaty that predates NAFTA, so Canada doesn’t stand to lose that much. On the other hand, there’s evidence that the Canadian economy would definitely suffer if Trump is able to pass his promised “border tax” on goods made outside the United States.
Although 45-year-old Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau is considered politically left-leaning by most estimates, he enjoys a popularity rating in his home country that’s relatively high. (Interestingly, when polled, Canadians said they preferred Trump to Trudeau on economic issues.)
Like its southern neighbor, “Canada will always stay true to the values that have made us this extraordinary country, a place of openness… diversity is our strength,” according to Trudeau. In the wake of President Trump’s order banning travel from seven Muslim-majority nations, however, the Canadian prime minister tweeted that as opposed to the U.S., Canada welcomed people fleeing war, terrorism and persecution.
Regarding these differences with the Trump administration, Trudeau said, “Relationships between neighbors are pretty complex; we won’t always agree on everything.”
Nonetheless, the young prime minister stated that he’s looking forward to maintaining a healthy trade exchange between Canada and the United States. “We know our economy is very dependent on our bonds, our relationship with the United States,” Trudeau declared.
“We continue to understand that we have to allow this free flow of goods and services… We know that by working together — by ensuring the continued integration of our two economies — we’ll be continuing to create good opportunities for the middle class.”
For his part, Trump stated, “We share much more than a border; we share the same values. America is deeply fortunate to have a neighbor like Canada.”
When the two leaders met, they discussed immigration policy and border security, with Trump saying that the U.S. “wants to have a big, beautiful open door, but we cannot have the wrong people come in.”
Trudeau declined to give an opinion on the Trump administration’s policies toward refugees, but pledged to work with the White House on secure borders. “The last thing Canadians expect is for me to come down and lecture another country on how they choose to govern themselves,” he remarked.
Both leaders later released a statement that read in part, “We recognize the security of our borders as a top priority. Together, we address security at our shared border and throughout our two counties, while expediting legitimate and vital cross-border trade and travel. We demonstrate daily that security and efficiency go hand-in-hand, and we’re building a 21st-century border through initiatives such as pre-clearance of people and integrated cross-border law enforcement operations. In addition, our two countries are committed to a coordinated entry-exit information system so that records of land and air entries into one country establish exit records for the other.”
Prior to the meeting, there were fears that Trump might have pushed protectionist trade measures or been verbally combative as he’s been at times with leaders of the government of Mexico.
But none of this was in evidence, and Trump — who’s often been accused of being a misogynist — and Trudeau were able to also discuss removing barriers for women entrepreneurs in both countries and tackling issues that affect women in the workforce.
A prior meeting regarding this issue was attended by both Trump’s daughter Ivanka and Katie Telford, Trudeau’s chief of staff. The two ladies came up with the idea to create a Canada-United States Council for Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs that will help women-owned businesses compete in their marketplaces and contribute to greater economic growth and integration of the two nations’ economies.
Both Trump and Trudeau were happy to promote this organization and met at the White House with a number of prominent women entrepreneurs from both countries.
Finally, Trump and Trudeau also discussed infrastructure investment, drug interdiction, cyber security, the North American Aerospace Defense (NORAD) command, Canadian purchasing of Boeing Super Hornet aircraft and the two countries’ military coalition to fight ISIS.
All in all, the meeting was productive for both sides, and the relationship between the two nations appears to be on a solid footing.
~Facts Not Memes