The Canadian Global Affairs Institute suggests despite escalating protectionism in the United States, support within the U.S. for NAFTA remains strong.
Escalating trade tensions resulting from U.S. tariffs on imported steel and aluminum and the retaliatory tariffs on U.S. products have added to the uncertainty over the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Collin Robertson, the Vice-President and a Fellow of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, notes the NAFTA negotiations are essentially on hold until the new year after Mexico’s new President takes office and the conclusion U.S. mid-term elections.
We’re into negotiations even thought they’re essentially stalled and so that would be about the only sign of optimism I can see. The U.S. public supports the NAFTA and there is now a large number of elected representatives, both in Congress and at the state level, particular amongst Governors who recognize the importance of the NAFTA to their economies. That is a positive because when we began the negotiations you could have probably counted the number of legislators that supported the NAFTA on one or two hands.
Now the numbers are significant so that’s room for optimism if we can reach a deal but reaching a deal is going to be really tough and that’s where I become pessimistic because we have not seen and movement by the administration of three of the key issues, dispute settlement, sunset clause and we still have to work out rules of origin. There are some other issues, supply management and the rest where the administration is pushing Canada to make significant concessions but again those concessions would only come if we could reach a deal on the big issues, particularly as it relates to dispute settlement and the duration of the agreement.
~ Collin Robertson, Canadian Global Affairs Institute
Robertson says we are into much more complicated times and unfortunately the tide of protectionism is increasing not decreasing.