Business leaders, others weigh in on Trump's latest NAFTA criticism

Donald Trump, the newly minted Republican presidential nominee, vowed to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement after securing the party’s backing at this week’s convention in Cleveland.

“Our horrible trade agreements with China, and many others, will be totally renegotiated. That includes renegotiating NAFTA to get a much better deal for America — and we’ll walk away if we don’t get that kind of a deal,” he said.

Trump’s been pledging to revisit NAFTA for some time now, but his nomination brings him one step closer to being able to fulfil that.

Here is some reaction to his promise to shake up the trilateral agreement between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico if he goes on to become America’s next president:

Mathieu Bedard, economist at Montreal Economic Institute:

“If the U.S. walked away from NAFTA, it would definitely have a huge impact on the Canadian economy, but it would also have a detrimental effect on the U.S. economy.

It’s not true, that as Trump says, the U.S. produces nothing anymore …. Manufacturing production has increased tremendously since (NAFTA); the U.S. is producing 58 per cent more that it did before the deal came into effect.

He is so wrong, it is hard to even respond to his arguments, because a lot of it is just fantasy. How do you make a reasonable argument as a response to something completely fantasy?”


Global Affairs spokeswoman Diana Khaddaj:

“Canada believes NAFTA is in the best interest of our three countries and we are focused on deepening our trading relationship. Our three countries traded US$1 trillion in 2015, generating nearly 27 per cent of the world’s GDP with almost seven per cent of the world’s population. The benefits for Canadian middle-class families are clear.

Canada is also the United States’ largest customer. We buy more from the United States than China, Japan and the U.K. combined. Co-operation through NAFTA has created a North America where Canadian, American, and Mexican companies do more than make and sell things to each other; now, our companies increasingly make things together.

We look forward to a productive relationship with whomever the American people decide to elect in November.”


Perrin Beatty, president and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce:

“The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is following the U.S. elections with a watchful eye, and we are concerned about the anti-trade rhetoric coming from many candidates in both parties. The Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, and later NAFTA, have been hugely beneficial to the economies of all countries involved. They’ve reduced costs for consumers, helped businesses become more efficient and stimulated trade and investment.

When we hear comments criticizing free-trade deals, it’s not just the deals that are under attack but also the spirit of collaboration under which they are developed and implemented…We will continue to press governments to take down the barriers that stand in the way.”


Monique Moreau, director of national affairs at the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, which represents more than 109,000 small businesses in Canada:

“About 50 per cent of our members import from the U.S., and about 25 per cent export, so that’s a significant amount, and if there is a decrease in access to the U.S., that will certainly have an impact on our members. But we’re still very much in wait-and-see mode at this time.”


Jim Phillips, president & CEO of the Canadian/American Border Trade Alliance, representing public and private organizations involved in Canada-U.S. trade:

“I don’t see a major impact of any kind on Canadian-U.S. relations or Canada’s own self-interest or sovereignty interest because of the election…I look forward to a continuing very positive trade relationship between the U.S. and Canada, and I’m not losing any sleep at night about any major adjustments, whoever wins the political arena.”


Follow @ibickis on Twitter