By Paul Vieira
OTTAWA–Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday that Donald Trump’s possible return to the White House after the 2024 election poses economic uncertainty for America’s northern neighbor and major trading partner.
Speaking to reporters in Montreal, Trudeau said his Liberal government was able to defend Canada’s interests during the previous Trump administration–highlighted by the renegotiation of a North American trade treaty, now known as the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA.
“Canada and the U.S. do best when we do it together, when we are well integrated and when we recognize the prosperity that’s created on both sides of the border. That’s going to continue to be our approach,” said Trudeau, on the last day of a cabinet retreat in Canada’s second-largest city. “Obviously, Mr. Trump represents a certain amount of unpredictability but we will make sure we’re pulling together and preparing for whatever eventualities.”
The revised continental trade deal–a priority during Trump’s previous term as president–is up for review in 2026. The treaty is key for Canada’s economy, which relies on unimpeded trade with the U.S. to fuel growth. Based on 2022 data, two-way trade between the U.S. and Canada totaled over $900 billion, with Canada the top buyer of U.S. merchandise goods exports. About three-quarters of all Canadian exports are U.S.-bound.
In campaign documents and media interviews, Trump has floated placing a tariff of 10% on all imported goods and matching tariffs on trading partners with higher rates–“an eye for an eye, a tariff for a tariff.” The current Biden administration has initiated a trade challenge against Canada’s dairy-support system, and has warned of repercussions should the Trudeau government move ahead with previous plans to impose a tax on digital services.
“For sure there is no American president that is easy,” Trudeau said, adding his dealings with former presidents Obama and Trump, and now President Biden, have demonstrated his government’s “ability to defend Canadian interests and values while growing the economy for everyone.”
The incumbent Liberal government and Trudeau are struggling mightily in public-opinion polls, with the Conservative Party holding leads over the Liberals of 10 percentage points and higher. Trudeau and other Liberals have described the Tories as “MAGA Conservatives,” in reference to the Make America Great Again rallying cry popularized by Trump.
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