Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday February 15, 2017
Mission accomplished?: Trump’s NAFTA ‘tweak’ aside, Trudeau’s U.S. visit reassures markets
As Justin Trudeau praised U.S. ties in his debut remarks at Donald Trump’s White House, the Canadian prime minister’s top diplomat nodded along in the front row with barely a glance at her boss.
Instead, Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland’s eyes were fixed squarely on Trump, as if imploring him to let each of Trudeau’s words sink in: common goals, bilateral trade, middle-class jobs. The president soon caught her eye and nodded.
Trudeau left Washington Monday with as much as he could hope for. Trump pledged publicly to only “tweak” Canada’s side of the North American Free Trade Agreement and ease the flow of goods along the northern border, while saying he’d focus instead on the “unfair” U.S. commercial relationship with Mexico to the south.
In private, the president gave no indication of how he’d proceed on NAFTA talks or whether he’d press ahead with a border tax, according to a senior Canadian government official who spoke after the meeting on condition they not be identified. It was the clearest signal yet that Canada — and the US$541 billion in bilateral trade of which it’s a part — isn’t in U.S. Crosshairs.
“Trudeau did very well today,” Christopher Sands, director of the Center for Canadian Studies at Johns Hopkins University, told Bloomberg TV Canada Monday. “Trump made some important distinctions between Canada and Mexico. That’s reassuring for markets.”
The whirlwind visit lasted roughly nine hours. The two leaders spent four together before the prime minister’s meetings with House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky. Trudeau’s ministers also met with Vice President Mike Pence, and the prime minister’s senior aides met with their counterparts in Trump’s office, including Stephen Bannon and Jared Kushner.
Trudeau headed into the meeting biting his tongue on issues like refugee rights to instead focus almost exclusively on trade. Canada’s relationship with the superpower to its south largely consists of selling resources to Americans and buying goods in return. According to a report this month from the Bank of Nova Scotia, Canada ran a $303 billion deficit in manufactured goods with the U.S. between 2009 and 2015, and a surplus of $453 billion in energy and resource products. Mexico runs surpluses in both categories. (Source: Financial Post)
Trudeau’s chief of staff Katie Telford, his principal secretary Gerald Butts, Canada’s ambassador to Washington David MacNaughton, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, and Brian Clow — who heads the recently established “war room” in the prime minister’s office devoted to co-ordinating all Canada-U.S. issues — travelled to Washington, D.C., and New York City to meet Trump officials last week. (Source: Huffington Post)