Responding to the new US protectionist president Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said he will continue to emphasise the strong historical trade ties between the two countries.
Donald Trump wants to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement between Canada, the US and Mexico – to Mexico’s disadvantage.
Bilateral trade is critical for Canada, which sends three quarters of its exports to the US.
Speaking at a gathering of officials called to plan Canada’s strategy as Trump’s presidency starts, Trudeau told reporters: “Millions of good middle class jobs on either side of the border depend on the close trade relationship that we have and that has really been at the centre of all of our discussions.”
He said Canadian officials had been explaining to their US counterparts, “How, for example, the 35 states for whom Canada is a number one export market would react to thickening or imposition of challenges or taxes at the border.”
Members of the Canadian cabinet met Stephen Schwarzman, chief executive officer at Blackstone Group and head of President Trump’s strategic and policy forum.
Discussing Canada-US relations this morning with
blackstone</a>’s Steve Schwarzman – our thanks for the meeting. <a href="https://t.co/JVHnSye2it">pic.twitter.com/JVHnSye2it</a></p>— Justin Trudeau (JustinTrudeau) January 23, 2017
After Trump formally withdrew the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership this week, Trudeau said his focus will be on Japan and China.
“We had a great bilateral visit to Japan last year, in which we started early conversations on Canada-Japan trade improvements that can be made and we’ve also launched exploratory talks on free trade with China. We know that increasing our engagement with the growing economies of Asia is an important way to ensure good jobs and prosperity for Canada and that is what we are going to continue to do.”
Trudeau would not say whether Canada might join a smaller version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal without the United States.
Australia and others have signaled they may still pursue such an agreement to reduce tariffs on goods.
Canada talks trade with Asia after TPP’s collapse https://t.co/WwimxEUeiD— The Globe and Mail (@globeandmail) January 24, 2017
curryb</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/globepolitics">GlobePolitics #cdnpoli pic.twitter.com/MPYOMACvuv