'Trump needs a win on trade' ahead of U.S. midterms: Burney
U.S. President Donald Trump needs a victory on trade as North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiations drag on ahead of U.S. mid-term elections, according to a former Canadian ambassador to the United States.
“He needs a win,” said Derek Burney, who is now senior strategic advisor at Norton Rose Fulbright, in an interview with BNN Bloomberg Friday. “He can’t just keep fighting everyone in the world on trade and convince Americans that America is winning – because a lot of Americans are feeling the bite of retaliatory tariffs that countries have been forced to deploy against the Americans.”
“At some point, he has to put something in the window, Burney added. “And a deal on autos has all of the makings of a deal that Donald Trump could sell to his base.”
NAFTA renegotiations began just over one year ago, and while some progress has been made, a new trilateral deal hasn’t been reached between the U.S., Mexico and Canada.
Automotive manufacturing, dairy trade and a U.S. demand for a sunset clause have been key sticking points in the negotiations. Most recently, the Trump administration’s strategy has been to freeze Canada out of talks, threatening to impose tariffs on Canadian car imports if a deal isn’t reached, while the U.S. pursues bilateral talks with Mexico.
“I think that [Trump’s] political analysis is not just a beat up on Canada, although he seems to enjoy doing that,” Burney said. “I think his political calculus has to be what’s going to be good for his candidates in the upcoming election.”
Burney also said he hasn’t seen any flexibility from the U.S. administration on some of the key demands in NAFTA talks.
“What we continually hear instead is unilateral demands for unilateral concessions,” Burney said. “Well, that’s going to force the Canadians to establish some clear red lines in terms of what is acceptable and what is not acceptable as the price of a renegotiated deal.”