U.S. President Donald Trump’s threat to not to honor the North American free trade pact would cause economic suffering in the United States in a decision that would also be terrible politics, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said during an event at the University of Chicago.
Millions of American workers would be harmed, and their lives disrupted in the short-term through a thickening of the border and greater uncertainty, even if Canada and the United States can finalize a deal down the road, he said. Trudeau said that Canadians are rightly nervous that NAFTA will be torn up — a repeated threat Trump has made over successive rounds of talks between Canada, the United States and Mexico — and what it would mean for jobs on both sides of the border.
“Even if theoretically there is a better opportunity for a long-term deal, in the short-term that’s a lot of families out of work (and) suffering in a way that I think would be far worse politically,” Trudeau said at the event at the University of Chicago. “The challenge we have is not trade deal versus no trade deal. It’s how do we make sure we’re benefiting citizens and workers who don’t feel like they’ve been properly supported or cared for over the past years.” Trudeau framed the North American Free Trade Agreement as being good for Canada and the United States, but was clear that Canada wouldn’t be bullied into signing. He said he had concerns about an American proposal for a five-year sunset clause that would cause uncertainty and stifle investment. “We know we can work towards a good deal, but we also know that we will not be pushed into accepting any old deal,” Trudeau said. “No deal might very well be better for Canada than a bad deal. And being firm on that is, I think, what Canadians expect of me,” Prime Minister added.