Central Nova MP Sean Fraser said that trade “shouldn’t be a zero-sum game,” Thursday as it emerged that President Donald Trump made up facts during trade talks with Justin Trudeau.
Trump told Canada’s prime minister that the United States suffered a trade deficit with Canada, but in 2016 America enjoyed a $12.5 billion surplus with its northern neighbour, as reported by The Washington Post.
“You like to think that your partners are negotiating in good faith, in hopes that you can reach a deal that’s good for people on both sides of the border,” said Fraser, making it clear that he spoke simply as a Liberal and not for the government.
Earlier this month, Trump threatened to slap a 25 per cent tariff on all foreign steel and 10 per cent on aluminum, but later granted a temporary exemption to both Canada and Mexico.
Fraser said that Ottawa is “not focusing on one-on-one conversations with the president,” instead making a broader push for free trade south of the border.
Ottawa’s representatives are meeting with state senators, governors, Congress members, industry and labour representatives and ordinary citizens to promote the benefits of cross-border trade.
“Canada is the number-one destination for American goods [produced] in 35 states in the U.S.,” said Fraser.
Thanks to frantic lobbying from Ottawa, Canadian exports remain tariff-free for now, but Fraser was keen to preserve the 30-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement.
He said that free trade with the U.S. was “good for Canadians.” And tariffs would harm jobs and industry on both sides of the border.
This is especially true for the steel industry, whose North America-wide supply and distribution system is tightly integrated across the border.
“Having NAFTA go sideways wouldn’t just be bad for Canada. It would be against the interests of the United States as well,” said Fraser.
There is widespread fear that imposing new tariffs on Canadian, Mexican, European or other imports will likely spark a trade war and lead to an economic downturn.
Trump has consistently promised to tear up NAFTA, saying it will bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. He has also accused foreign countries including American allies of ripping off the U.S.
The U.S. president took to Twitter Thursday morning saying that “We do have a Trade Deficit with Canada, as we do with almost all countries (some of them massive).”
However, the Trump administration remains in disarray, facing an ongoing investigation into Russian meddling with the 2016 election and the firing of key staff including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Trump is also facing pressure from voters after the Democrats apparently won a tightly fought congressional election in Pennsylvania.