NAFTA: Trump doesn’t hold all the cards in NAFTA talks

NAFTA: Trump doesn’t hold all the cards in NAFTA talks

Postby Oscar » Thu Jul 06, 2017 3:09 pm

Trump doesn’t hold all the cards in NAFTA talks: Walkom

[ https://www.thestar.com/opinion/comment ... alkom.html ]

By Thomas Walkom National Affairs Columnist Mon., July 3, 2017

The conventional wisdom holds that Canada’s economy would be devastated if the pact were scrapped. But a new study done by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives argues otherwise.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s ill-considered efforts to mollify Donald Trump continue apace. The decision to keep sending Canadian soldiers to the war in Iraq is just the latest version.

The federal government’s entire defence posture and much of its foreign policy is focused on convincing the U.S. president that Canada is a loyal American ally.

Ottawa’s hope is that if Trump thinks Canada is pulling its weight militarily, he will order his negotiators to go easy on this country during the upcoming North American Free Trade Agreement talks.

Last month’s defence review won kudos from Washington because it promised that Canada would significantly increase its military spending, an important Trump goal.

Last week’s decision to extend Canada’s military mission in Iraq for another two years promises to be equally well-received by Trump.

Ironically, even as NAFTA dominates almost every aspect of Trudeau’s foreign policy, a new study calculates that the Canadian economy could survive quite handily without the trade and investment pact.

But first, the war in Iraq.

The latest version began in 2014, after then U.S. president Barack Obama belatedly realized that Daesh, also known as ISIS, posed a real threat to the Iraqi government.

Canada joined during the fall of that year, committing six fighter jets and a few dozen special-forces troops to act as advisers.
Claiming that it was interested only in a noncombat role, the current Liberal government withdrew the fighter jets. But it expanded the number of on-the-ground advisers to about 200.

Although these advisers actively take part in the shooting war, the government insists — against all logic — that they are not engaged in combat.

Last week’s announcement is not expected to increase the number of on-the-ground advisers. But they could be deployed anywhere in Iraq.

The announcement also commits a transport aircraft to the fight.

Up to now, Canada’s focus has been on training Kurdish fighters. But Iraq’s Kurds are preparing for an independence referendum in the fall that could put them at odds with the central government in Baghdad.

All of which is to say that this part of playing nice to Trump has its complications.

But is it necessary for Ottawa to be so Trump-focused? Does it matter if he trashes NAFTA?

The conventional wisdom holds that Canada’s economy would be devastated if the pact were scrapped. But a new study done by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives argues otherwise.

Written by economist Pierre Laliberté and research fellow Scott Sinclair, the study — entitled “What is the NAFTA advantage?” — says that even without the pact, trade barriers between Canada and the U.S. would be relatively minor. [ https://www.policyalternatives.ca/publi ... -advantage ]

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[ https://www.thestar.com/opinion/comment ... alkom.html ]
Oscar
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