America’s NAFTA nemesis: Canada, not Mexico

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America and Canada have one of many world’s largest commerce relationships.

President Donald Trump met for the primary time Monday with Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“We have a very outstanding trade relationship with Canada,” Trump mentioned on the information convention.

But the U.S.-Canada commerce relationship over time has not been as clean as you may assume. There have been commerce wars, acts of retaliation, allegations of dumping and jobs misplaced.

“Our trading relationship obviously is strong…but the relationship has been rocky, despite the agreements we have in place,” says Stuart Trew, an editor on the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, a analysis group in Ottawa, Canada’s capital.

Trump has typically slammed Mexico and NAFTA, the commerce settlement between the U.S., Mexico and Canada. But Canada is never talked about.

Yet, there have been extra NAFTA dispute claims towards Canada — nearly all by U.S. firms — than towards Mexico. Even in the present day, Canada has stiff tariffs towards the United States and the 2 sides solely not too long ago resolved a bitter dispute over meat.

Most leaders and specialists stress that commerce ties between the 2 nations are sturdy and largely optimistic. But Canada and America have had loads of battles alongside the way in which.

Now Trump needs to renegotiate NAFTA, which shall be on the highest of the agenda for his assembly with Trudeau.

1. Canada will get in additional NAFTA bother than Mexico

Listening to Trump, you may assume Mexico is the dangerous actor of NAFTA. But since NAFTA’s inception in 1994, there have been 39 complaints introduced towards Canada, nearly all by U.S. firms. Known within the trade because the investor state dispute settlements, it permits firms to resolve instances beneath a particular panel of NAFTA judges as a substitute of native courts in Mexico, Canada, or the U.S.

There’s solely been 23 complaints towards Mexico. (By comparability, firms from each Mexico and Canada have filed a complete of 21 complaints towards the U.S.)

And more and more, Canada is the goal of American complaints. Since 2005, Canada has been hit with 70% of the NAFTA dispute claims, in line with CCPA, a Canadian analysis agency.

2. The U.S. – Canada lumber battle

NAFTA isn’t the one sore space. In 2002, the U.S. slapped a roughly 30% tariff on Canadian lumber, alleging that Canada was “dumping” its wooden on the U.S. market. Canada rejected the declare and argued the tariff value its lumber firms 30,000 jobs.

“It was a very sour point in Canadian – American relations for quite a while,” says Tom Velk, an economics professor at McGill University in Montreal.

The dispute had its origins within the Eighties, when American lumber firms mentioned their Canadian counterparts weren’t taking part in truthful.

Whether Canada truly broke the foundations is a matter of dispute.

Canadian officers deny that the federal government is subsidizing softwood lumber firms in Canada. American lumber firms nonetheless allege that it does, and a U.S. Commerce Department report discovered that Canada was offering subsidies to lumber firms in 2004. It didn’t say whether or not the subsidies have been ongoing.

According to the allegations, Canada backed lumber firms as a result of the federal government owns most of the lands the place the wooden comes from. That subsidy — on prime of Canada’s enormous lumber provide — allowed Canada to cost its lumber beneath what U.S. firms can cost.

The World Trade Organization finally sided with Canada, denying America’s declare and the 2 sides got here to an settlement in 2006 to finish the tariff.

However, that settlement and its ensuing grace interval expired in October, and the 2 sides are again at it once more. The Obama and Trudeau administrations couldn’t attain a compromise earlier than Obama left workplace and it stays a contentious commerce problem with U.S. lumber firms calling as soon as once more for tariffs.

Related: ‘Without NAFTA’ we’d be out of enterprise

3. Smoot-Hawley triggers U.S. – Canada commerce struggle

Things acquired even worse through the Great Depression. In 1930, Congress needed to guard U.S. jobs from international commerce. So the U.S. slapped tariffs on all international locations that shipped items to America in an effort to defend employees.

It was referred to as the Smoot-Hawley Act. Today, it’s broadly accepted that this legislation made the Great Depression worse than it was.

Canada was livid, and retaliated greater than every other nation towards the U.S., sparking a commerce struggle.

“Canada was so incensed that…they raised their own tariff on certain products to match the new U.S. tariff,” in line with Doug Irwin, a Dartmouth Professor and writer of “Peddling Protectionism: Smoot-Hawley and the Great Depression.”

For instance, the U.S. elevated a tariff on eggs from 8 cents to 10 cents (these are Thirties costs, in any case). Canada retaliated by additionally rising its tariff from 3 cents to 10 cents — a threefold enhance.

Exports dwindled sharply: in 1929, the U.S. exported practically 920,000 eggs to Canada. Three years later, it solely shipped about 14,000 eggs, in line with Irwin.

Related: Remember Smoot-Hawley: America’s final main commerce struggle

4. Canada’s sky excessive tariffs on U.S. eggs, poultry, milk

Fast ahead to in the present day. Smoot-Hawley is lengthy gone, however Canada continues to cost steep tariffs on U.S. imports of eggs, hen and milk.

For occasion, some tariffs on eggs are as excessive as 238% per dozen, in line with Canada’s Agriculture Department. Some milk imports, relying on the fats content material, are as excessive as 292%.

“They’re so onerous that you can’t bring it across. There’s no American eggs in Quebec,” says Velk.

According to Canada’s Embassy within the U.S., actuality is far totally different. Its officers say that regardless of some stiff tariffs, Canada is without doubt one of the prime export markets for American milk, poultry and eggs.

The U.S. does have tariffs on some items coming from all international locations, however they’re not practically as excessive as Canada’s.

Experts say these tariffs proceed to irk some U.S. dairy and poultry farmers, a few of whom are challenged to promote into the Canadian market. But they doubt a lot will change because the tariffs have been in place for many years now.

Related: Those Reagan tariffs Trump loves to speak about

5. COOLer heads and the way forward for NAFTA

Despite all these disputes, specialists stress this commerce relationship remains to be the most effective on this planet.

In truth, the 2 international locations are so interconnected now, when commerce disputes erupt typically American firms will aspect with Canadian firms and towards U.S. lawmakers.

For instance, Canadian meat producers disputed a U.S. legislation that required them to label the place the cattle was born, raised and slaughtered. Canadians mentioned the legislation discriminated towards its meat from being bought within the U.S. and took the case to the WTO.

The WTO sided with Canada, and final December, Congress repealed the country-of-origin-labeling legislation. American meat producers — whose enterprise is intertwined with Canada — truly supported their counterparts in Canada, arguing the regulation was too burdensome.

As for Trump’s proposal of tearing up NAFTA, many American and Canadian specialists say that it’s not value it to renegotiate or finish the settlement. The three international locations which are a part of the settlement are so enmeshed with one another that untangling all that integration could be detrimental to commerce and financial development.

–Editor’s notice: This story was initially printed on August 11, 2016. We have since up to date it.

CNNMoney (New York) First printed February 13, 2017: 11:11 AM ET

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