Challenges persist for Canadian exporters beyond USMCA: EDC
The 11th hour deal to preserve a North American trade agreement may have washed away some of the uncertainty hanging over Canada’s economy, but a new poll shows it’s getting a lukewarm reception from Canadians.
The results of the Angus Reid Institute survey released Tuesday reveal 45 per cent of Canadians are disappointed with the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which still needs to be ratified by all three countries’ lawmakers, while 34 per cent said they are pleased overall, and 21 per cent said they’re not sure.
Only one-fifth (18 per cent) of respondents said the new deal was better than the original North American Free Trade Agreement. Thirty-five per cent said it was about the same, and almost half (47 per cent) said it was worse.
Canadians were essentially split over whether the USMCA was better than no deal at all, a message Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reiterated throughout the negotiations.
Canada made some concessions in order to have a new agreement completed by U.S. President Donald Trump’s Sept. 30 deadline, which included giving U.S. dairy farmers greater access to Canada’s supply managed markets.
So not surprisingly, Quebec – where many major dairy farmers reside – had the highest percentage (58 per cent) of respondents who were disappointed by the deal. Meanwhile, Ontario had the highest percentage (39 per cent) of respondents who were pleased with it.
Overall, half of respondents said the negotiating team was “too soft” and gave up too much to reach a pact, while 39 per cent said the team struck the right balance.
Roughly the same percentage of Canadians were happy with the overall performance of the country’s negotiators (43 per cent) as they were disappointed (41 per cent), and more than half of respondents (52 per cent) said they were disappointed with Trudeau’s performance.
Trump used tough tactics throughout the negotiations, expressing his dissatisfaction with Trudeau and Canada's negotiating team even in the days leading up to the deal. Despite the agreement being reached, Canadians' view of the U.S. is the lowest since 1980. And almost half (49 per cent) have a "very negative" view of the Trump administration's performance since taking office in January 2017.
The survey was conducted online from Oct. 11-17 among a randomized sample of 1,500 Canadian adults.