Amid doubts about the future trading relationship between the United States and Canada, some of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s inner circle have been meeting with members of president-elect Donald Trump’s team.
A spokesman for the prime minister said meetings have been taking place “at every level” between the Canadian government and incoming American administration.
With two weeks to go before officially taking office, Trump is already making good on his pledge to push a protectionist agenda driven by one edict he has said will guide his time in office: Buy American, Hire American.
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Last week, Ford Motor Co. cancelled its plans to open a Mexican factory and added 700 jobs in Michigan after Trump criticised the company’s plan. Later in the week, Trump turned his attention to General Motors, which he said is shipping made-in-Mexico cars to the U.S. without penalty.
Trump has also pledged to either renegotiate or scrap the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, saying doing so is a top priority upon taking office Jan. 20.
Although his attention so far seems focused on Mexico, the third signatory to NAFTA, Canada has a lot of skin in the game.
Every single day, $2.4 billion worth of goods crosses between Canada and the U.S. In fact, Canada exports so much over the border, it amounts to nearly one-third of Canada’s GDP.
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Beyond meetings, Trudeau recently released a video to coincide with the swearing in of the 115th U.S. congress, in which he appealed to the emotional side of the countries’ relationship, saying Canada and America have “been friends for a long time” and “grew up together.”
Standing next to Trudeau in the video, McNaughton spoke of the strength the two countries can foster when combined.
“We know that we are better off when we tackle challenges together,” he said.
Trudeau’s team has been somewhat secretive in providing any information about meetings between the two camps, unwilling to divulge exactly when or where the meetings took place or what topics were discussed.
And despite the meetings and videos, the Liberals continue to insist they are not worried about the future state of trade between Canada and the U.S.
In an interview with Global News’ The West Block this week, parliamentary secretary for international trade David Lametti repeated a message many Liberals, including Trudeau, have been touting since November’s elections – that Canada and the U.S. are bound by values, culture and integrated economies, and the unique relationship between the two countries should serve as a model for the world.
With a file from Reuters