'I’m glad to bring a Western voice' to TD securities: Rona Ambrose
Canada should be prepared for tariffs to be a permanent fixture in its trade relationship with the United States, according to a former member of Canada’s advisory council in the North American free trade agreement renegotiations.
“We finally signed the new NAFTA… We thought we had come to a resolution and we had some closure with the U.S. government, but it took very little time for them to slap tariffs back on Canada,” Rona Ambrose, incoming TD Securities deputy chair, told BNN Bloomberg in an interview on Wednesday.
“So, I think that this is the new normal.”
Ambrose's comments come almost a month after the Trump administration announced the reinstatement of 10-per-cent tariffs on aluminum imports from Canada under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. The decision came just a month after the new free trade agreement between Canada, the U.S., and Mexico came into effect.
Ambrose added that American protectionism “probably” won’t change if Democratic nominee Joe Biden wins the U.S. presidential election in November.
“The politics of the Trump administration are one of great protectionism. But let’s not forget that a Biden administration will probably be no different,” said Ambrose, who previously served as interim leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.
Biden’s election platform does not formally address the U.S. tariffs on Canada, but the former U.S. vice-president said in a National Public Radio interview in August that the U.S. “poked [its] finger in the eyes of all of our allies out there,” and that repairing those relationships would be crucial to changing the behaviour of a key U.S. trade rival: China.
Ambrose said that there is a trade-off with a “Made in Canada” response to protectionism in terms of costs that could ripple through the supply chain to consumers, but that it could provide necessary infrastructure and jobs.
However, she said that any changes that may come from a Biden presidential win likely would not extend to North American trade policy.
“Depending on what happens in the election, there may be changes in outlook,” she said. “There may be changes in the U.S. in terms of approach to the environment or other things, but when it comes to trade, the two parties in the U.S. are both very protectionist.”
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the U.S. had reinstated tariffs on Canadian steel. BNN Bloomberg regrets the error.