SASKATOON â€” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says it is too soon to predict how the trade policies of the new U.S. administration will affect the Canadian economy.
Trudeau said his priority is to highlight the benefits of Canada-U.S. trade to Washington and how the economies of the two countries are tied closely together.
“The administration has made it very clear both to us and publicly that they are not overly preoccupied with Canada in terms of much of their protectionism and much of the rhetoric they have put out,” Trudeau said Wednesday night in Saskatoon.
“They have actually emphasized to us that the trade relationship with Canada is a good one, is a balanced one and is one that they value and one that they understand is good for not just the northern states but many states across the United States.”
U.S. President Donald Trump has pledged to renegotiate the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the U.S., Mexico and Canada and slap tariffs on some imports.
Trudeau said any increase in trade barriers would not be in the best interest of the U.S. or Canada.
He noted that 35 U.S. states send most of their exports north.
“It would be almost impossible to imagine any increasing of barriers between Canada and the U.S. that wouldn’t significantly harm jobs in the United states as well as in Canada.”
Trudeau has said he plans to meet the new U.S. president within the next several weeks.
Mexico has said it could leave NAFTA if talks on renegotiating it with the U.S. are unsatisfactory.
Ray Orb, president of the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities, said after a town-hall meeting with Trudeau on Wednesday that his group is concerned because Trump has specifically mentioned country of origin labelling.
“We’re really concerned about that because that affects our agriculture industry because Saskatchewan trades with the U.S. more than any other entity,” Orb said. “Sixty per cent of our trade in Saskatchewan ends up, one way or another, in the United States. So really concerned about that because of President Trump’s protectionist attitude and so we’re wondering how the prime minister’s trade team is going to actually deal with that.”
The Canadian Press