Monday, October 01, 2018

Canada escapes NAFTA - sorry, USMCA - negotiations relatively intact

After dramatic last-minute negotiations last night, Canada appears to have come out of Donald Trump's NAFTA renegotiation relatively unscathed. Justin Trudeau and the Liberal government can probably call this a "win", although don't tell Trump or he will probably start the painful process all over again. It's still just a "tentative" deal, whatever that means, but maybe Canadian (and America and Mexican) businesses can now get on with making money, after months of unnecessary uncertainty and stress.
Details are sparse as yet, but it looks like Canada has accepted a relaxation of its totally unjustifiable dairy supply management system and some unspecified quotas in the auto sector in return for hanging on to the Section 19 dispute resolution system and avoiding punitive tariffs on auto production. It's probably the best we could have hoped for, and kudos to Foreign Affairs Minster Chrystia Freeland for sticking to her guns and managing not to lose her temper throughout this whole sordid (and often quite nasty) affair.
Except... apparently we are not allowed to call it NAFTA any more. It is now to be called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or the unpronounceable USMC or USMCA. Did some marketing consultant earn millions of dollars for that? Is it because trade within the bloc is no longer free, but distinctly managed? Are we to read volumes into the fact that Canada's name comes third in the list, and are we to see it as a slap in the face for being so intractible in performing our part in advancing US so dominance? Is it - dare I suggest it - petty?

No comments: