The mayor of Canada’s largest city isn’t getting bent out of shape just yet over the United States’ strategy for NAFTA negotiations, but urged policymakers to be watchful for anything that could hurt key pillars of the domestic economy.
In an interview on BNN, Toronto Mayor John Tory said Canada needs to keep a close eye on American objectives related to the financial services sector, but said we shouldn’t panic over the American trade wishlist.
“Vigilance is going to be the word,” he said Tuesday. “[There’s] nothing I’ve seen that sort of immediately causes me to start lighting my hair on fire, but we’re going to have to be vigilant, and that’s what a negotiation is all about.”
Tory said any concerns related to an American incursion into the financial services sector should be centered around maintaining Canadian jobs.
“We’ve going to have to be very vigilant about that, because it is a huge employer here, across the country, in Toronto and elsewhere, and I think the status quo actually seems to be working, I think even for the United States,” he said. “I don’t hear a lot of complaints myself about United States financial services industry being put upon.”
“In fact, one might argue they are the dominant ones globally and we’re the ones that are in need sometimes of protectionism, as big as some of our banks are.”
In spite of Tory’s warning, the Canadian Bankers Association is highlighting the fact that U.S. banks already have a presence in Canada. In a statement to BNN, Neil Parmenter, the CBA’s president and CEO, said there’s nothing wrong with a little healthy competition.
“Canadians benefit from a highly competitive industry and financial services sector. Foreign bank subsidiaries and branches, including those from the U.S., contribute to this competition,” he said. “There are now 22 U.S.-based bank subsidiaries and branches with around $80 billion in assets established in Canada specializing in a range of financial services.”
Parmenter said his group is in favour of maintaining the status quo in terms of NAFTA’s overall structure.
“The banking industry strongly believes that NAFTA’s existing trilateral framework of rules and commitments should be preserved and maintained,” he said. “Canada’s banking industry believes that strengthening and deepening trade relationships with the United States and Mexico is not only beneficial to the industry but also to its customers and the general economy.”
Though he is concerned about U.S. officials keying in on banks and telecom providers, Tory said he’s encouraged by the lack of commentary on those fronts from the White House.
“I haven’t heard President Trump, for example, who is leading the effort to sort of open up NAFTA, talking in particular about financial services, I’ve heard him talk more about dairy products and some other areas.”