The Trade Tizzy

We here in Canada can get ourselves into quite the tizzy on trade. Even when we could see the latest moves by the US coming for many months.

The softwood lumber issue is a case in point. There was a deal between America and Canada but it ran out over a year ago . And the Americans under Obama were less than eager to sign another one. Just push it off to the next Administration. You know: Obama talk , little action.

And we all know this new Administration’s view on trade deals. Trump kept saying during the election that he felt America had negociated bad deals and he wanted to renegotiate them. And even though the Softwood deal is outside NAFTA per se it is still a trade deal that American lumber interests want to see changed .

One would think that Canada would be more than ready for the tariffs now placed on Canadian imports of lumber given that there is no agreement and the US Commerce Department was investigating.This has happened before. But if one listens and reads the news reports there is weeping and gnashing of teeth and all kinds of anti American rhetoric being expended. The Premier of BC , in the midst of an election campaign, exclaims she is not afraid of President Trump. Now that’s what you call informed debate now isn’t it. A Federal Minister states the obvious that there may be job losses. I thought that the Federal and Provincial Governments would have a plan to announce right after the American action on tariffs. How they were to deal with the economic dislocation in various regions of the country. I mean thay have their noses into just about everything —-so this should be a piece of cake so to speak. Not likely, just more talk.

Canada says that they have won every time when the softwood issue has gone to adjudication , often years later. And this is true.

But as I understand it, the Americans want the whole structure of the Trade relationship changed including how ajudication operates . In other words, the nature and whole structure of the trade deals . They believe previous American Governments have negociated terms that have made it too easy for the other side to win such adjudications. This is hardly ever mentioned but to me seems crucial as we enter both NAFTA and softwood lumber negotiations.

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