Congress will never approve a trade deal with Mexico that excludes Canada: Former ambassador
If Canada hopes to be part of the new North American Free Trade Agreement, its biggest task may be finding a deal that makes U.S. President Donald Trump look like a winner.
A former U.S. ambassador to Canada told BNN Bloomberg on Monday that the result of such a deal may mean making the Canadian side look like it lost.
“There ought to be a way for Canada to help tweak this so Trump can claim victory,” James Blanchard, a former U.S. ambassador to Canada and current chair emeritus at Government Affairs Practice Group, told BNN Bloomberg. “The real problem is whatever we do, however minute, the president will claim this is the greatest agreement since maybe the Magna Carta.”
“It will be hard on Canada, because in Canada it will make Prime Minister Trudeau and [foreign affairs minister] Chrystia Freeland look like they caved in when maybe it’s just a minor adjustment,” he added. “And that’s the problem.”
NAFTA talks between Canada and the U.S. were on hold Monday after two weeks of intense negotiations in Washington. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer travelled to Europe while Freeland returned to Toronto to participate in the Women in the World panel alongside Indigo Books and Music CEO Heather Reisman.
White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow literally spelled out where the administration wanted Canada to concede on Friday, asking for a better deal for U.S. dairy. Trump went a step further later on Friday, threatening the Canadian economy’s “ruination” with auto tariffs.
Talks are scheduled to resume on Tuesday in Washington.
However, former Toronto-Dominion Bank CEO Ed Clark said he believes that Canadians shouldn’t put too much stock in the voices they hear from outside the negotiating room.
“A lot of people criticize how all of this has gone down. What I would say is, unless you’re inside, you really don’t know,” Clark said in a BNN Bloomberg interview Monday.
“I think we have a fantastic minister. Chrystia Freeland is running this. I think she’s playing it right. I think we have more strength than we understand.”
Clark echoed Blanchard’s sentiment that any deal Canada and the U.S. sign needs to be a victory Trump can claim for himself.
“We also still understand in the end [that] it has to be a deal where Mr. Trump wins, and we don’t lose.”
While Clark expressed optimism, stating that he thinks Canada “will get there” in its ongoing negotiations with U.S. trade representatives, Blanchard said he doesn’t see a trade deal happening without Canada.
“I don’t think Congress would approve a new NAFTA or even a bilateral agreement with Mexico without Canada being part of it,” Blanchard said.