Trump, Trade and the Canadian anxiety

Free trade bombJ’ai été sur le blogue de Lawrence Herman, avocat spécialisé dans les négociations des traités de libre-échange pour le Canada.

Évidemment, il est traumatisé, car depuis l’élection de M. Trump les règles du jeu des traités vont être sérieusement négociées ou tout bonnement éradiquées.

À tous nos petits amis globalistes qui vivent dans une bulle.


·       Pourquoi, que l’ensemble des pays occidentaux sont en déficits ?

·       Que l’ensemble des pays occidentaux ne sont même plus capables de payer leurs capitales ?

·       Quand nous baissons les impôts des sociétés à cause de leur chantage fiscal, qui doit compenser le manque à gagner ?

·       Pourquoi le pouvoir d’achat de la classe moyenne des pays occidentaux ne progresse plus depuis 20 ans ?

·       Que faites-vous contre l’évasion fiscale, le chantage salarial et le chantage des subventions par nos sociétés multinationales ?

·       Que faites-vous pour compétitionner un Chinois, un Indien ou un Mexicain qui est aussi productif et aussi intelligent que nous, mais il coûte 5 fois moins chers que nous ?

En fait, ce que vous démontré c’est que vous êtres pathétiques et vous vous foutez totalement du peuple.

Oui, M. Trump a été élu par son peuple pour changer les règles des traités de libre-échange qui ne favorisait que le 10 % du peuple, il est grand temps qu’on brasse la cabane, car elle est pourrie.

Counsel on International trade and investment, global business transactions & public policy


Trump, Trade and the Canadian Dimension

cabane pourriWith Mr. Trump’s election as president, every carefully orchestrated American policy (like China and Taiwan) and every nuanced and finely negotiated treaty (like the Iran nuclear deal) is up for grabs.

That is equally true for trade agreements like the NAFTA, repeatedly slammed by Mr. Trump as the worst deal every signed by the United States.

One of the first things on the Trump administration’s trade agenda will be to demand (that’s right, demand) that the NAFTA be renegotiated. While Mr. Trump’s arrows are aimed at Mexico, Canada is directly in target range on a variety of fronts.

Even though Canada’s ambassador in Washington, David MacNaughton, made some mollifying comments about dealing with the new administration in a cooperative manner (Globe and Mail, 2 January 2017), my predictions are that the atmosphere around the table will be very stormy.

The trade policy team Mr. Trump is assembling is aggressively skeptical, if not hostile, to trade liberalization, especially if it entails any compromises by the United States.

The new trade policy trio, Wilbur Ross, Dan DiMicco and the new USTR, Robert Lighthizer, a senior partner at Skadden Arps, have been critical of US trade policy under Mr. Trump’s predecessors. China is seen as a particular menace. This is an indication of the kind of collective perspective they bring to the job.

Trade agreements are all about compromise and mutually-balanced concessions – but that means a willingness on all sides to pursue a common objective to emerge with a fair and workable deal. Mr. Trump seems allergic to this kind of arrangement. For him, and presumably his trade team, it’s a zero-sum game.

There has been discussion in Canada over the technical aspects of the US actually withdrawing from the NAFTA and whether Congress would have to approve that step. Whatever the answer, the fact is that the President has full authority to demand any treaty be opened up for re-negotiation.

It’s also illusionary to think that if the US were eventually to withdraw from the NAFTA that the pre-existing Canada-US bilateral Free Trade Agreement of 1988 would then simply take over. If the American administration is hostile to elements in the NAFTA, it seems obvious that the FTA will be on the table as well.

All of this makes for considerable uncertainty in Canada US trade relations. As I said in my 3 January 2017 opinion piece in the Globe and Mail, the times are a-changin’ and many aspects of the established order has been turned upside down. See the piece here.

 Until the US agenda is fully fleshed out, the world at large and Canada in particular, will be waiting with some anxiety

Extrait de: Trump’s zero-sum worldview spells trouble for trade ,LAWRENCE HERMAN , Special to The Globe and Mail,Jan. 02, 2017

Lawrence Herman is a former Canadian diplomat, practices international trade law and is a senior fellow of the C.D. Howe Institute in Toronto.

As a Nobel Laureate once said, “The times they are a-changin’.”

The global trading system has been thrown into disarray with Donald Trump’s election and his clear disdain for international trade commitments – or, put another way, his stridently protectionist policies designed, he says, to make America great again.

This amounts to a decisive turnaround from the leadership role U.S. administrations have played since formulating the Bretton Woods agreements of 1947-48. Those American-led efforts produced the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and ultimately the WTO Agreement of 1994, with the United States leading and cajoling other governments to agree to an orderly international trading system based on widely, if not universally, respected rules.

Now, it seems, that leadership role is no longer in play, incompatible with Mr. Trump’s thumping on the campaign trail, slamming the TPP and NAFTA so often that it’s impossible to imagine that these positions won’t dominate the new policy agenda on U.S. trade.

In effect, we’ve gone from a reasonably secure international trading system with known signposts and respect for rules to largely unknown and uncharted territory. All of this in the span of a few weeks.

Some observers say, with some justification, that we still need to see where all that rhetoric about the TPP and NAFTA being a “disaster” is leading. Fair enough. Protectionist bombast in the hurly-burly of a presidential campaign may not translate into actual anti-free-trade policies once Mr. Trump takes office.

It’s true we still don’t know Mr. Trump’s real agenda or who will comprise his entire trade policy team, notably his choice of the new U.S. Trade Representative and other senior trade officials. We also have the Congress in the background, with its very important role in trade policy as a check to presidential excesses.

But the signals aren’t propitious. There’s not much likelihood of the Trump administration looking kindly on its trading partners, Canada included. The message to the world is that trade is a zero-sum game and that all deals have to be weighed purely in terms of what’s in it for the United States, full stop. Forget mutual concessions and balanced outcomes.

So while we await some policy direction from Washington, we should have no illusions. Canada-U.S. trade could be in for some stormy times. Our government has to prepare for all contingencies under the worst-case scenarios with NAFTA on the chopping block.

That means not only having Plan B well developed but also having plans C, D, E and F ready to roll out as events unfold.

What are the broad indicators as we await those events?

Even before Mr. Trump’s election, international trade has been under some stress, the WTO recently reporting an increase in protectionist measures worldwide.

In the negotiating arena, efforts under the WTO umbrella to achieve some modest advances in discrete fields after the collapse of the Doha Round have been making glacial progress and same have stalled, showing how fraught these processes have become.

On the more-contained regional front, the TPP was indeed successfully concluded, but Mr. Trump has put that deal into deep-freeze. Some hope remains that the inter-Asian trade and economic negotiations, led by China but without U.S. involvement, can achieve some traction, but progress is reportedly slow.

Given the difficulties in the multilateral arena and the slow pace in other regional trade deals, and with the U.S. retrenchment from leadership in advancing global rules, Canada and the rest of the world will have to adjust to this new reality