We might not think about them too much unless someone brings up hockey or just generally how polite they are, but Canada has been America’s ally for years now in a variety of different circumstances. One thing for certain, our friends up north have always stood by us and now with our new president, those tables are threatening to turn on our closest friend and neighbor. It’s important to think of our Canadian friends now as Donald Trump plans to make them the first foreign nation he deals with as he brings the hammer of his new protectionist views down.
Consider the fact that Donald Trump was elected partially on a platform of scrapping or renegotiating the free trade treaty that covers Mexico, Canada and the United States, NAFTA. In fact, he’s even made it clear that he wants to meet with Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau next week to renegotiate parts of the treaty in ways that has our staunch northern ally worried. Any new agreement would have huge implications for Canadian businesses and the way that goods and services flow across the border between our two countries, which incidentally is the longest undefended border in the world.
The person handling the negotiations with Canada is thought to be Wilbur Ross, Trump’s choice as Commerce Secretary and himself a billionaire. Although he has told Congress that all the issues around NAFTA are on the table, he has warned Canadians that there will be two forks of the American attack on this long-term treaty that has benefited both countries.
First and foremost is the way that the independent member states handle any trade disputes and second is the country of origin rules which dictate which products can cross borders duty-free.
If all this sounds like a bunch of gobbledygook to you and maybe you don’t even care about Canada, consider the implications on our side of the border if Trump decides to go protectionist on our northern friends. We will see quite quickly how it works both ways and if the deal gets struck down, both sides of our longest undefended border will suffer. Consider these statistics.
Biggest Trading Partners
Canada and the United States are each other’s biggest trading partners. In fact, we’re the biggest trading partners in the entire world and the total trade that went across the borders between our two countries totalled nearly US$700 (C$886) billion in goods and services in 2015. For more recent statistics we uncovered the fact that Canada exported 33.7 billion dollars worth of goods to the United States in November 2016 alone. While Donald Trump has said that he will put Americans first, this doesn’t take into account that geography and friendship places Canada as one of our most important trading partners and as important to American prosperity as if it was a state.
Here’s a few other statistics that can help highlight the catastrophe it would be if Donald Trump decided to cancel America’s participation in this agreement. (Make no mistake he only needs to give six months notice if he decides to pull out and it looks like just what he’ll do if he doesn’t get what he wants.)
The American side of NAFTA has some amazing numbers that support a lot of families. All you need to do is take a look at what flows across the Ambassador Bridge which is a portal between Windsor, Ontario and Detroit and the busiest border crossing in all of North America. On any given day, $500 million US travels across that man-made structure between our two countries and once again it could all be lost if our long-term trading partners like Canada decide to look elsewhere. Can you imagine how lonely that bridge will look if NAFTA closes down and none of the 28,000 vehicles that go across it every day decide to pass?
It’s about more than just trade and commerce too. Canada was the country that allowed stranded American planes to land in Gander, Newfoundland after the 9/11 attacks and our friendly neighbor to the north even played a role in getting the hostages released in Iran all the way back in 1979. Those are just two of the examples of the bond between our two countries – a bond that Donald Trump seems intent on breaking.
It’s important to keep in mind that salvaging a deal between our two countries won’t be easy for a number of reasons. Donald Trump is a political outsider who doesn’t have any of the connections that Justin Trudeau and his family’s political lineage in Canada have been able to put together. What muddies the waters more is the fact that Trudeau is a liberal which is more like our Democrats and that makes him a better fit to negotiate with Hillary Clinton. If Donald Trump’s political ideologies get in the way, we could wind up losing the most important trading partner we’ve ever had.
Our northern allies have even taken steps to loosen the grip of our trade relationships by looking towards China and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a global deal that was championed by former president Obama but now seems poised to wither on the vine under Donald Trump. It’s all part of the larger protectionist view that could turn the clock back on globalization and undo any of the advances the world has made towards a global village and the shared distribution of wealth.
It’s important that Americans understand how valuable our allies like Canada have been and continue to be. Our newly elected President needs to remember that Canada and the United States have a history that goes back many years. Not only that, we share political ideologies and moral values between the two countries that make us more like a family than just neighbors. It would be a shame if that long-standing relationship gets tarnished because Donald Trump pulls out of the trade deal that might very well need some tweaking but can easily be fixed among friends.