Trump-Trudeau love-in threatened as Canada attacks US over trade

The allure offensive was already underneath manner earlier than Donald Trump moved into the White House. By inauguration, Justin Trudeau’s high advisers had fostered shut contacts with Trump’s internal circle, setting the stage for a Washington go to peppered with smiles, handshakes and picture ops.

But this week relations between Canada and the US seemingly struck a special word, as information broke that Ottawa had launched an all-out trade battle in opposition to Washington.

In a wide-ranging grievance, filed in December and made public on Wednesday by the World Trade Organization, Canada has taken intention at Washington’s use of anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties. The grievance listed practically 200 instances spanning 20 years, alleging wrongdoing not solely in opposition to Canada however dozens of different international locations, such as Brazil, China and India.

Canadian officers portrayed the submitting as a transparent message that Canada was standing up for its industries and employees. “When people see that you’re firm, you get respect,” François-Philippe Champagne, Canada’s worldwide trade minister advised reporters.

Looming over Ottawa message are the excessive stakes renegotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Amid Trump’s repeated threats to drag out of the decades-old pact, the Canadian authorities has been scrambling to hammer out an inexpensive replace that might safeguard the roughly 2.5m Canadian jobs and 75% of Canadian exports tied to the pact.

Some pointed to the powerful discuss as a plan B by the Trudeau authorities. “By dropping the gloves in such a public way, Canada is acknowledging that playing nice with Mr Trump on trades has failed miserably,” famous a columnist for the Globe and Mail.

Whether the method had yielded outcomes was a matter of debate: whereas a lot of Trump’s rhetoric has been aimed toward Mexico, his preliminary actions have been aimed toward Canada.

A sequence of aggressive trade actions noticed steep tariffs and duties levied on Canadian softwood lumber, Bombardier CSeries plane and, simply this week, newsprint.

Trump paired these with a broad assault. “We can’t let Canada or anybody else take advantage and do what they did to our workers and to our farmers,” he advised reporters in April.

The WTO grievance suggests the Trudeau authorities has advanced in its method , stated John Weekes, Canada’s former WTO ambassador and chief Nafta negotiator. “This is really about sending a signal to the Americans that we’re prepared to be tough.”

The timing of this sign suggests the Canadian authorities sees the sixth spherical of Nafta negotiations – slated to start later this month in Montreal – as a significant alternative to find out whether or not the US is prepared to seek out frequent floor on the thorny points such as the foundations governing the auto trade and trade dispute mechanisms, stated Weekes.

On Wednesday US trade consultant Robert Lighthizer made clear his perception that Canada’s WTO grievance would merely exacerbate trade tensions.

“Canada’s new request for consultations at the WTO is a broad and ill-advised attack on the US trade remedies system,” Lighthizer stated in a press release. “Canada’s claims are unfounded and could only lower US confidence that Canada is committed to mutually beneficial trade.”

But within the transcript of an interview with the Wall Street Journal revealed Thursday, Trump struck a extra upbeat tone, saying that there was an opportunity of creating an inexpensive deal, and hinting his administration could be open to extending the timeline of Nafta talks.

This week noticed headlines suggesting that Canada is readying for Trump’s imminent withdrawal from Nafta, however Canadian officers have lengthy been ready for the chance, stated Colin Robertson of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.

Canada has proven no signal of slowing its outreach plan that has despatched representatives from the Canadian authorities and companies on a whole bunch of journeys throughout the US to speak up trade with Canada.

Relations between Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s overseas minister and Rex Tillerson stay shut, and different channels of communication stay open.

“I think that conversations are still taking place between the prime minister and Mr Trump,” he stated.

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