By Dhara Patel, National News Writer
Last week, Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, made his first visit to the United States to visit President Trump. People around the world were keen on what the meeting will entail since both leaders have starkly different political ideologies. BBC News, along with other newscasts, have remarked on Trudeau’s reluctance to criticize Trump’s policies. The reason for Trudeau’s silence regarding Trump is due to his interest in keeping a balanced relationship with the United States. He also went on to say that “the last thing Canadians expect is for me to come down and lecture another country on how they choose to govern themselves.” The only opposition Trudeau has made is his tweet in which he noted Canada would always welcome refugees by supporting its policies of openness; this was in retaliation of the temporary immigration ban on seven Muslim majority countries.
The meeting consisted of discussing key alliances. A few things mentioned included women-owned businesses, clean energy, and effective border control. With regard to increased women in the workforce, Ivanka Trump took the forefront. According to the Washington Post, the White House is keen on setting up a committee between the two countries that will advocate women in the business sector. The committee has been named The Advancement of Women Business Leaders-Female Entrepreneurs.
A more pressing matter for Trudeau was Canada’s trade relationship with the United States concerning the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) passed by former President Bill Clinton in 1994. In short, NAFTA is an agreement between the United States, Canada, and Mexico serving to create a trilateral trade coalition. The main goal of NAFTA is to eradicate barriers to trade and investment between the three countries, with the aim of abolishing tariffs on most goods sold between Mexico and the United States, as Canada already had preexisting duty-free trade relations with the United States prior to NAFTA’s implementation.
It comes as no surprise that many conservatives, including Trump, detest this seemingly liberal policy. During his campaign, Trump was adamant to either terminate NAFTA or renegotiate it. In addition, Trump wants to add a thirty-five percent tariff on goods produced in Mexico for sale in the United States, such as Ford automobiles.
Though the president has full authority to withdraw from NAFTA, much is at stake. Currently, the U.S. and Mexico trade roughly $1.4 billion in goods. With an increased tariff and border wall, U.S.-Mexico relations may appear destitute. If free trade between the two nations is terminated, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates six million trade-dependent American jobs may be lost. Eliminating NAFTA will not ensure the return of jobs.
In addition, Canada plays a major role within the agreement. For years, Canada and the U.S. have been involved in trade wars due to the initiation of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, an act passed in 1930 that placed tariffs on all imports arriving in the United States. Many economists and historians consider the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act to have worsened and accelerated the Great Depression during its first two years. Canada retaliated in the same way on receiving American products.
Moreover, Canada is the United States’ largest foreign oil supplier. Renegotiating the deal may damage U.S.-Canada relations significantly. However, President Trump attempted to placate Trudeau by promising that the renegotiation of NAFTA will only consist of small tweaks. This will not be the last meeting between the two world leaders, as much compromise still needs attention on the matter of mutual free trade.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, February 21st print edition.
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