The Trudeau government kept dismissing the idea of striking a one-on-one deal with the United States. Now Mexico is meeting with the US trade negotiator alone.
For many months, people across Canada, including myself and many of you reading this article, have been calling for Justin Trudeau to put Canada’s interests first, and be open to the idea of striking a bilateral, one-on-one NAFTA deal with the United States.
Months ago, those reasons were very simple: Canada and the US have broadly similar economies and labour standards, and the Trump administration was focusing their anger on Mexico, particularly the massive trade surplus Mexico has over the US.
Yet, the Trudeau government refused to even consider a bilateral deal. Over and over and over again they rejected even the thought of it, and said Canada stood in “solidarity” with Mexico.
Now, that move looks incredibly stupid.
There are growing reports that the US and Mexico will strike a bilateral NAFTA deal, leaving Canada out in the cold. While nothing is set in stone, one aspect of the deal could see the US impose tariffs on vehicle imports – including cars built in Canada, but would give Mexico an exemption from the tariffs.
As you can imagine, that would be devastating for Canada’s economy, and would represent one of the most historic reversals of fortune when it comes to trade. After years of railing against Mexico, it appears Donald Trump is willing to sign a deal with them, while Canada is left out.
A US-Mexico deal without Canada would also give the US significantly enhanced leverage over Canada, meaning we would end up with a far worse deal.
And here’s what makes Trudeau’s approach look even worse: Mexico has abandoned any pretense of solidarity with Canada.
While the Trudeau government keeps talking about a ‘trilateral’ deal, the National Post reports that “the Mexican economics minister made plans to meet the chief U.S. trade negotiator in Washington, next week – a session that would not include Canada.”
Looks like that Canada-Mexico ‘solidarity’ was all one-sided.
Give Mexico credit. They played it smart. They used Trudeau’s ‘solidarity’ to buy time, and turn the tide of negotiations in their favour, leaving Canada as the one the US is pissed off at. And once things looked good for them, they went off to negotiate one-on-one with the US.
In short, Trudeau and Freeland got played.
While it’s usually good when Trudeau runs into trouble (for example people turning against the carbon tax), this is one area where his failure would have significant negative consequences for Canada. I hope that I’m wrong on this one, and that his huge ‘solidarity’ mistake doesn’t end up leaving Canada in a position of having zero influence and leverage in continuing NAFTA negotiations.
But it’s not looking good. Trudeau, whether out of arrogance, stupidity, a willingness to sell out Canada, or a combination of all those things, appears to have put Canada in a dangerously weak position, and all of us could end up paying the price.
Photo – YouTube