Thursday, September 06, 2018

In The Long Run

Chrystia Freeland is back in Washington, trying to hammer out a trade deal. That's no small task, given the fact that -- as Bob Woodward's new book and the recent anonymous editorial in The New York Times make painfully clear -- Trump is off his presidential rocker. Part of the problem is Trump's animus toward Canada. Lawrence Martin doesn't pinpoint the cause. but he writes that it burns intensely:

In his America-First campaign, Mr. Trump is remarkably casting Canada among the predator nations taking advantage of his so-called hard-done-by country. As Kim Campbell, our former nano-second Prime Minister, said the other day, we’ve usually been the ones complaining of neglect by the United States. It’s been a staple of our history. Anti-Americanism constituted a lengthy chapter.
Now we have a president who has turned the tables. Canadians are the villains. We’re so dastardly on trade that he’ll have to drive us into submission. We’re also, if it can be imagined, a geopolitical threat, and so he’s hammered us with steel tariffs and warnings of worse to come if we don’t buckle under. Add to this his insults, his distortions and his attacks at the G7 summit, and it can be said that no president has ever treated Canada so badly. If he keeps at it, despite his protestations about loving Canada, Donald Trump will go down as the first anti-Canadian president.

And it's been there for a long time:

In full-page newspaper ads in 1987, he wrote that, “The world is laughing at America’s politicians as we protect ships we don’t own, carrying oil we don’t need, destined for allies who won't help.” Americans, he said back then, “are tired of watching other countries ripping off the United States.” On trade he complained of being “like a whipping post for Japan. ... Look what Japan does with the cars and the subsidies they get.”
With NAFTA, the “worst trade deal ever,” Canada was added to his target list, and there it remains.

Facts have never mattered to Trump. They still don't:

There is no coming to grips with the fact that there is no trade imbalance with Canada, with the fact that the ripped-off charge is imaginary, with the idea that the whole crisis is more Seinfeldian than real. Modernizing a trade agreement hardly had to be an apocalyptic exercise. Dairy trade, for example, is a major sticking point in the talks. Dairy accounts for a minuscule 0.12 per cent of bilateral trade of US$680-billion last year. Canada subsidizes its dairy industry, but so does Washington, which just put up a US$12-billion package to protect U.S. farmers, including dairy producers.

He is, indeed, a mad king. The last one the Americans had to deal with was George III. The simple truth is that we may not be able to deal with Trump. And, in the long run, we may be better off for it.

Image: Twitter


Anonymous said...

I see no point in negotiating a trade deal with the US right now. Trump has shown that he will arbitrary break international agreements even in defiance of US commitments to the UN Security Council. He negotiates in bad faith and there is no reason to believe he would abide by a new NAFTA. Finally, Canada has no way of knowing whether US negotiators are following the president's orders or freelancing as other senior officials are doing. It may be a good idea to bide our time and see how things play out in the US.


Owen Gray said...

I think that's good advice, Cap. And, ultimately, Congress has to approve any changes. This is no time to be stampeded by fear.

The Mound of Sound said...

I agree with Cap. Neil Macdonald made this point a day or two ago. You can't negotiate with someone whose word you cannot trust and that is Donald Trump personified.

If Trump wants to kill off NAFTA then so be it. In fact, the sooner the better. Let it be a major issue for Republicans in the mid-terms.

As Cap mentions, we might even goad Trump by saying we don't know if we're dealing with his administration or the other guys who are really running the show. Give the Orange Bloat a swift kick in the prostate.

Owen Gray said...

Trump has no grasp of trade policy, Mound. He has no grasp of any policy. And he could back out of any signed agreement at any time. Caveat Emptor.

e.a.f. said...

As Trudeau has said, No deal is better than a bad deal. I agree.

There is no deal to be made here because Trump will simply keep moving the goal posts. its better to drag is out and wait for the mid terms. Trump's position on our dairy industry is simply crazy. But I think he has done it because its one thing we won't give up, thus, no trade deal. Its nothing to do with business. Its personal. He didn't like Canada from the get go and went to another country for his first visit abroad. It has more to do with Justin Trudeau. Our P.M. gets way more applause and photo ops than he does and trump is just an old man and can't stand to see the new younger generation coming onto the world stage. Then there is the no small issue of our Freeland. Very smart and capable and she isn't interested in becoming one of his mistresses. Truly that is what it all comes down to.

We know now how bad things are in the W.H. and we just ought to forget about getting a decent deal with the U.S.A. as long as Trump is President and the Republicans in Congress/Senate remain a bunch of sissys who can't but their adult pants on and get with the business of protecting their country's economy instead of their personal fiefdoms.

Owen Gray said...

I think you've got it eight, e.a.f. For Trump, it's personal. In fact, for him, everything is personal.

Jay Farquharson said...

The Insane Clown POSus went to Moscow in 1987 and came back with a brain full of poison on trade, allies, NATO, etc.

Before then he didn't give a shit about Foreign Policy,

So the Commies managed to get their Manchurian Cantidate in place, 4 years before their collapse.

Jay Farquharson said...

BTW, Canada's doing everything right on NAFTA,

We have Republicans in the House, Senate and States that don't want it torn up,

So we keep jaw, jaw, jawing and if the Commie Russian Usurper want's to blow it up, then he blows it up and takes the blame,

and loses the Red Border States and lot's of ReThugs.

Owen Gray said...

If things are going to change, Jay, the Republicans are going to have to go down with Trump.