Canada-US FlagsTonight is the first U.S. Presidential Debate.  Every 4 years, Canadian bureaucrats and those interested in politics watch the debates looking for clues as to what good and bad may be coming.  I thought it would be useful to make a list, from the perspective of a Canadian trade lawyer, of what Canadians should listen for while watching the U.S. Presidential Debate.

  1. The future of TPP – What are the candidates’ positions on TPP?  Basically, we already know both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are against TPP.  If the TPP is not ratified before the change of power, most likely TPP will be dead.  Will they change their position during the debate?
  2. The future of NAFTA – Both candidates have spoken unfavourably about NAFTA.  What are their plans and how will those plans affect Canada?  Do the candidates plan to end NAFTA or do they plan to open NAFTA for new negotiations?  Will NAFTA evolve?
  3. NAFTA Chapter 11 – Will there be any discussion of NAFTA Chapter 11?  Will either candidate want to clarify the terms of NAFTA Chapter 11 further to further limit arbitrations against the United States government measures?  This has been done in the past and the Investment Chapter of TPP evolves the NAFTA Chapter 11 provisions.
  4. Softwood lumber – Would either candidate negotiate a favourable resolution to the softwood lumber trade war if it commences in October (prior to the election)?
  5. Other Antidumping and Countervailing Duty cases – Will the candidates signal that they would support more antidumping cases and countervailing duty cases to increase duties on goods imported into the United States?  We believe there will be more antidumping duty and countervailing duty cases against Canada, Mexico and other countries.
  6. Buy America – Both candidates speak in protectionist terms.  Will they implement “Buy America” policies and how will Canada be affected by any new “Buy America” initiatives?
  7. WTO – Donald Trump has indicated that he might pull out of the WTO.  If such discussion takes place, the question will be what level of duties will be imposed on foreign goods.
  8. Immigration law – What changes do the candidates propose to immigration laws?  Will the proposed changes negatively impact the ability of business travel and mobility of workers involved in North American industries (goods and services)?  Will it be more difficult for business persons to travel between Canada and the United States?
  9. Border Security – What do the candidates propose to do with respect to enhancing border security and will it slow down the flow of goods and persons between Canada and the United States.  Canadian and U.S. businesses will not benefit from a thickening of the border.
  10. Standards and Regulatory Alignment – Will the candidates speak about the need to align Canada’s and U.S.’ regulations and public standards on goods that are manufactured and sold in both countries?  This would reduce red tape on many manufacturing businesses and assist U.S. manufacturers.  It may require Canadian manufacturers to change the way they do things (e.g., packaging).
  11. Supply management – Will the candidates take aim at Canada’s supply management programs?
  12. Keystone XL Pipeline – Donald Trump is for approving the pipeline and Hillary Clinton is against the pipeline.  Will the Keystone XL pipeline get mentioned during the debate?

There are many other topics that would be of interest to Canadians.  Rather than making a long list, I thought the key trade issues would be a good place to start.  Please feel free to submit comments to list more trade issues.

If you have any questions, please contact Cyndee Todgham Cherniak at 416-307-4168 or email cyndee@lexsage.com.