Canadians are inspecting the new U.S. political landscape following mid-term election results.
The Democrats’ majority victory on November 6 in the House of Representatives means the ratification of the recently struck United States-Mexico-Canada deal, known as USMCA, will likely have to wait well into 2019.
Lawrence Herman, Canadian trade expert with law firm Cassels Brock LLP, says he expects the pact to eventually gain approval – but he warns there’s a risk the agreement-in-principle could crumble, especially if Democrats decide the deal’s passage isn’t politically advantageous for their party.
With a new crop of legislators in the U.S. House, some cross-border trade watchers such as Maryscott Greenwood, CEO of the Canadian-American Business Council, say it may be necessary to reach out to the rookies.
“The Trudeau government’s charm offensive is going to have to double down. I have a feeling there’s a lot of education that’s going to have to be done,” Greenwood said.
Democrat support of the agreement may come down to what the party can get in return and their success in dealing with the Trump administration.
In the U.S., Robert Guenther, senior vice president of public policy at United Fresh Produce Association weighed in with these thoughts. “With a new Democratic House, and a Republican Senate, much is at stake in the next two years. We look forward to continue working in a bipartisan manner to advance the priorities of the fresh produce industry. Passing a new Farm Bill, ensuring a reliable workforce and creating new trade opportunities will remain our top priorities in the 116th Congress.”
Coincidentally, Canadian horticultural leaders were lobbying parliamentarians in Ottawa on November 6 and 7 with similar messaging: access to labour and international trade. For the Canadian produce sector to build on its current $2.8 billion in exports, it will need less red tape and more tax reform to be competitive. During the same week, Canadian agriculture minister Lawrence MacAulay and a delegation of businesses were in Shanghai, China to build more export trade.
Sources: Tonda MacCharles, Toronto Star https://www.thestar.com/politics/federal/2018/11/07/ottawa-urged-to-launch-new-charm-offensive-in-us-to-sell-trade-deal.html
United Fresh Produce Association for statement by Robert Guenther, www.unitedfresh.org