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5 Minutes for Business: Fast and Furious—Negotiating NAFTA

Tick-tock! The U.S. Trade Representative just sent the official notification to Congress that NAFTA negotiations will begin in 90 days. The Canadian government must now negotiate and resolve all the hot button issues with our American and Mexican friends—in the midst of a highly charged political environment. How will it play out?

 

For the next 90 days, every special interest and aggrieved Wisconsin dairy producer will have a chance to provide input during the consultation period under Trade Promotion Authority. Then, whatever new agreement is negotiated must pass the House and the Senate. All three governments want NAFTA 2.0 wrapped up ASAP. Canada wants to end the uncertainty that is hurting investment, and for our partners, it is even more urgent.

 

Mexico’s presidential election is set for July 2018 and will be in full election season by the early spring. Polls show the current leader is Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, a fiery left-wing nationalist who filed a human rights complaint against Mr. Trump and his plans for the border wall. He calls it embarrassing to see the current Mexican government prostrate before Trump. Mexico’s government would dearly love to conclude the NAFTA well before the election.

 

Similarly, U.S. mid-term elections will be held on November 6, 2018, and Republicans need to show progress on trade. The likelihood of NAFTA passing Congress drops off significantly after the mid-terms.

 

Gallup points out that when the U.S. President has an approval rating below 50%, his party loses an average of 36 seats during mid-term elections. President Trump’s approval rating is well south of 50%, in the high-30s. If the administration remains mired in scandals, special counsels and the Russian Connection, the Republican house is likely to lose its 31-seat majority. Would a newly-elected Democratic house be eager to pass Mr. Trump’s NAFTA?

 

No way. Is it even possible to renegotiate NAFTA before the deadlines? The original Canada-U.S. FTA took 18 months (May 1986 to Oct 4 1987), and our governments at the time were the closest of friends.

 

So it’s possible but very unlikely because of the politics. We often hear from Americans that Canada is not the main target of U.S. trade ire. Canada just needs to give the Trump administration a PR win, which it defines as a big give on supply management and softwood lumber, then it can have whatever it wants— regulatory cooperation, movement of people, maybe even an exemption from Buy American.

 

But the politics are awful because Mr. Trump’s bullying, blustering threats have made it impossible for Mr. Trudeau or Mr. Pena Nieto to agree to concessions without appearing weak. Their supporters despise Mr. Trump and would be furious. And even if it wasn’t politically poisonous, why should we make concessions for another country’s domestic politics?

 

There may be another way. The USTR referred to NAFTA modernization as opposed to renegotiation. In the past, NAFTA has been amended extensively without going back to Congress. We could add a chapter on ecommerce, fix the rules of origin and sign a bunch of side letters that could give the Americans the win they need. Let’s hope they take what they can get. Otherwise, NAFTA 2.0 is doomed.

 

Hendrik Brakel

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce

Senior Director, Economic, Financial & Tax Policy

613.238.4000 (284)

hbrakel@chamber.ca

 

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Gaslight District

In this edition ofthis weeks V-Blog Greg discusses why it will not only keep the heritage aspect intact but also put a new spin on the area for our futures. Not only our futures though. It will benefit our grandchildren's future as well. This will be a district unlike any in Ontario. So check out this video and support the Gaslight District.

 

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Year End Greeting from "The Chamber"

Have a wonderful Pancha Ganapati, a Happy Hanukkah and a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from all of us at the Chamber

 

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Auditor Generals Report 2015

Bonnie Lysyk the Auditor General for the Province of Ontario released her report last week. The most scathing report in the history of the Province, suggesting that programs are riddled with incompetence and mismanagement.

 

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The Government Could Solve Problems..... If It Cared To!

Ti's the Season, according to the Auditor General. What a wonderful Christmas present to hear about the waste, when some at this Christmas will go without even a decent meal. Just ONE of the wasteful acts by Government could have made Christmas a whole lot brighter for ALL the Homeless in the Waterloo Region, for the next 25 Christmas's. Shameful and disgusting, we don't need to change the people, the people need to change their attitude, there is simply no reason to accept incompetency from elected officials, they said they would watch our money, they even took an oath to do so, now lets hold them 100% accountable to do just that.

 

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Are You Buying What They Are Selling?

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The Ridiculous

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Big Bold Ideas Wanted!

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Scott on the Business Awards

Hello Chamber Members.

 

I haven’t done a blog in a while and I figured after my favourite Chamber Night of the year it was time…What an exceptional night last night at the Chamber’s Annual Business Awards..It really can be summed up by a comment made from one of our sponsors after the event.

 

“That event never ceases to amaze me, as it truly outlines what a great community we live and work in”.

 

This is such a true comment and I would like to thank all the Sponsors, winners, nominees and attendees for giving up there night to celebrate what a truly great community we live and work in. This is the first year we did the pre-reception and it was a huge success networking at its finest hour.

 

I would like to say a special congratulations to Julie at Big Brothers Big Sisters on her win for the Keith Taylor Memorial award…this one is special  one for me for several reasons including at the time of Keith’s passing I was President of the organization and to see Julie as one of Keith’s employees at that time and to see how she has taken the organization to heights.  I know Keith would be so proud of you Julie as I am.  Well done Julie!!

 

With spring coming soon (I hope)…it’s time to dust off the networking shoes and get out there….The last couple of weeks I have been out and about connecting with members and it has been great to sit down with so many great people and leaders in this community.

 

Thanks to the many new Chamber members we have had over the last while including Silver Compass Inc, Courtland Esso, JC’s Mechanical, Propertyguys.com (welcome back Mike), Dundee Recycling, Rea Elektronik Canada Inc, Diversco Supply, Mindful Life Studio, Hospice of Waterloo Region, A Life’s Transition, Concord Production Services, Little Electric, Preston Figure Skating Club, Faith FM 94.3, Silo Wireless, Sponagle and Sons, Airbonne- Kelly Hall, Clout Industries,  Watson Mechanical, Hydronic Heating, Simply Gloves,Boehmers, Waterloo Coin Society, Royal Canada Forward Inc, Part Source, Garston Motors. Welcome to the Cambridge Chamber family!
 

Scott.

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Politics Hit a New Low in the Region of Waterloo

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