Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Inversely Proportional



Donald Trump has us in his sights. Yesterday, he slapped a 20% tariff on Canadian lumber. Next, he'll take aim at Canadian dairy farmers. Tom Walkom writes:

What he was signalling in his off-script remarks about Canada is that the NAFTA talks between Ottawa, Washington and Mexico City will be very, very tough. Canadian officials presumably knew this already. In a draft letter to Congress leaked late last month, some of Trump’s overarching goals in renegotiating NAFTA were laid out.

These included elimination or diminution of Canada’s supply management system in dairy and poultry. They also included opening up Canadian government procurement to U.S. firms while maintaining the U.S. right to buy American.

He wants Canada to dismantle any trade barriers, such as supply management, that inconvenience the U.S. Simultaneously, he wants the U.S. to retain the right to erect trade barriers of its own.

Justin Trudeau's approach, so far, has been to make reasoned arguments on Canada's behalf. But, when dealing with Trump, Trudeau should abide by one overarching principle: the size of Trump's ego is inversely proportional to the size of his brain. The more you stroke his ego, the more his brain ceases to function.

This has become a case of personal -- not mutual -- advantage. Canadian trade policy should focus on taking advantage of a dim witted president and government. 

Image: News Corpse

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

!?

Canadian trade policy should focus on playing this out until there's a change at top.

Owen Gray said...

That may take awhile, !.

Lorne said...

Something tells me, Owen, that Trudeau's reasoned approach (which I don't disagree with) to this situation will fork no lightning with Trump. Reason only has a chance of working when one is dealing with sane and stable people who possess at least a modicum of cognitive ability.

Owen Gray said...

I agree, Lorne. It's becoming abundantly clear that Trump is full of himself -- but his bulb does not burn brightly.

Pamela Mac Neil said...

I wonder Owen, what would happen if Canada walked away from NAFTA? Is it really a benefit to Canadians, or is that just spin? Is it just another neoliberal "trade" deal.Canada was the US's largest trading partner before NAFTA.

liberalandlovingit! said...

As Hebert @ Toronto Star says - "Why punch when you can parry?"...

Indeed, Chantal, indeed.

Owen Gray said...

A good question, Pam. I confess I don't know the answer. I do know that our economies are integrated. Our former neighbour lost his job when his plant moved to Evansville, Indiana. Job loss cuts both ways.

Owen Gray said...

Strategy should not only operate on the basis of good economics, lovingit. In this case, you must take into account the personality of the man you're dealing with.

Anonymous said...

Canada's relationship with the Trump administration has an increasingly 'Canadian Bacon'look to it.
How long before a small part of Tea Baggers invade Toronto?

TB

Owen Gray said...

Good question, TB.

Dana said...

The WTO and the NAFTA panels have repeatedly over years rejected these claims. They will do so again. Should Trump and his pet government see fit to ignore those rulings then everything changes...

liberalandlovingit! said...

Very true, Owen.

The Teabaggers? Oh, they're here and have been all along. A good many of them settled here, back in the day. Wasn't our PM's residence built by a lumber baron? Or, some such thing.

the salamander said...

.. try to understand Harper - the Canadian Wheat Board give away - or the Experimental Lakes closure etc ..
.. try to understand Trump - The Great Wisconsin Dairy Conspiracy - defunding Environmental Protection Agency
These are just samples of 'I have a majority.. and these are pet peeves' hardly the stuff of 'public servants'

Owen Gray said...

Precisely, Dana. Trump doesn't understand how the American government works. He certainly doesn't understand how the WTO works. He's a wrecking ball, set loose on the international stage.

Owen Gray said...

We've had our own robber barons, lovingit. Trump wants to bring them back big time.

liberalandlovingit! said...

The Barons are dead,
the Whigs are gone
away, away, gone.

Owen Gray said...

Harper once famously informed his security staff that he was under the impression he made the rules, salamander. Trump is under that same impression. Unfortunately, both men were misinformed.

Owen Gray said...

Oh, but their ghosts still haunt us, lovingit.

liberalandlovingit! said...

To this very day, Owen.
It's a worshipful cult.

Owen Gray said...

"Cult" is the right word, lovingit.

liberalandlovingit! said...

Well, words matter to me, Owen.
The right word at the right time - priceless.

The Mound of Sound said...

Trump understands timing and he understands distraction. Right now everyone is criticizing him for his lack of achievements that he promised to deliver in his first hundred days. He needs to be seen as doing something, especially now that he's delayed his demand for funding for his wall. A trade war with Canada would seem to fit the bill to draw attention from his hapless failures. It's all executive branch stuff, no need for fights and delaying actions in Congress. The American people, at least those loyal to Trump, see any foreign nation as either a freeloader or a threat and there's no particularly deep affection for anyone north of the 49th. Throw'em a bit of red meat with a delightful maple flavour.

Owen Gray said...

Trump needs an external enemy to distract his followers, Mound -- Syria, North Korea, Canada, if necessary.

liberalandlovingit! said...

Don't forget Iran! And his pal Putin. Bloodthirsty, the evidence shows.

Anonymous said...

http://www.imdb.com/videoplayer/vi3602645273?ref_=tt_pv_vi_aiv_1

TB

Owen Gray said...

Thanks for the link, TB. "Surrender pronto or we'll level Toronto."

John B. said...

So whose idea was the NAFTA in the first place? To listen to Trump, you'd think that a bunch of bumbling American bureaucratic hicks were hoodwinked by a cunning syndicate of sophisticated wheeler-dealers from Mexico and Canada acting in concert to plunder the assets of hard-working Americans and their local mom-and-pop business benefactors. His muddled pronouncements and some of the comments here brought to mind some points related to the Canada-Mexico factor in US trade deals from Marci McDonald in "Yankee Doodle Dandy" (1995):

"[A]s a 1989 State Department briefing for George Bush would reveal, the trade agreement with Ottawa had been aimed at [these] considerations: 'to prevent a return to inward-looking, nationalistic policies of the 1970s. especially in energy, investment, banking and services.' ...

"[A]s [US chief negotiator Peter] Murphy confirmed, that had been the ultimate aim all along. 'We didn't enter the agreement over tariffs,' he said. 'The Canadian agreement is a political one - to make sure you don't go back to those policies like the National Energy Policy.' ...

"'It wasn't that Mulroney aggressively needed prodding,' Murphy said. 'It was a future prime minister we were worried about.'" (p. 227)

...

"Unbeknownst to most Canadians, at the same time that he was confounding Simon Reisman over the negotiating table in Ottawa, he was also commuting to Mexico City and Cancun to hammer out the first 1987 sectoral framework that would pave the way for NAFTA. Later, Murphy would scoff at protests that Ottawa had been ambushed by the Mexican deal. 'We notified the Canadians," he said. 'We didn't say it was the first stage of NAFTA - but figure it out.'" (p.331)

The CUSFTA was very likely an after thought to the desire by US Chamber and major business interests for a deal with Mexico that would expand the maquiladoras project and provide access on the best terms to that country's as yet untapped pools of cheap labour and open up state-controlled sectors to private and foreign ownership. There was little more specific to the Canadian factor than a convenient opportunity to lullaby the American public into acceptance of the NAFTA. After the CUSFTA few Americans, if any, lost their jobs to a Canadian because of labour costs. In creating the model that Salinas would later be compelled to accept the Americans found a perfect dupe in Mulroney.

(Similarly, Harper's blind eagerness and Justin's delusionary visions have been put to use by other parties in establishing the CETA as a model for the TTIP. But of course, all of that might not matter if the Trump administration survives too long.)

Owen Gray said...

It is remarkable to watch how the Party of Reagan has become the Party of Trump, John. Oh, what wonders power hath wrought!

Owen Gray said...

Rationality is not the Donald's strong suite, lovingit.