Canadian Manufacturing

Using trade as a cudgel makes passing USMCA a challenge, says former congressman

Former New York congressman Joe Crowley says Trump has "weaponized" the issue of trade


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WASHINGTON—Former lawmakers, diplomats and business leaders from Canada, the U.S. and Mexico are gathering in Washington to explore an enduring political conundrum in Washington—the likely fate of the new North American trade pact.

The day-long event, hosted by the Canadian American Business Council, includes a number of past and present diplomats and political figures from all three countries discussing how to expedite passage of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement.

President Donald Trump is, of course, top of mind: former New York congressman Joe Crowley, who lost his nomination last year to rising star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, says Trump has “weaponized” the issue of trade, alienating two powerful U.S. allies in the process.

Gordon Giffin and Jim Blanchard, two former U.S. ambassadors to Canada, shared a panel with former Canadian envoy Gary Doer, all three of whom called on the White House to lift its tariffs on steel and aluminum.

And they also agreed the deal—still awaiting ratification on Capitol Hill, with a number of Democrats and Republicans saying they won’t support it in its current form—can’t be passed until those tariffs are lifted.

Democrats in particular say the agreement lacks labour and environmental enforcement, and some don’t like its extended drug-patent protections, but U.S. officials say those concerns will have to be dealt with in so-called side letters or the bill Congress votes on to enact the deal.

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc. 2019

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