Op-Eds

Keystone XL is dead. Everyone knows that. Nothing can force the Biden administration to reissue the construction permit. The fight is now over any compensation owed to owner TC Energy Corp. by the U.S. government. Even though it was endorsed by the Canadian government and even though Alberta invested up to $1.5-billion in the venture, Keystone is a private-sector project. Claims for compensation will be up to the company to advance, either in U.S. courts or before a North American free-trade agreement panel. The company said it is considering its options. In the meantime, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has demanded Canada apply “sanctions” in retaliation for the project’s cancellation. Saskatchewan counterpart Scott Moe echoed this,...
There’s concern in Washington – even consternation – over December’s conclusion of the European Union-China investment treaty, with some commentators saying it was engineered by China to create a political wedge between the United States and its European allies, coming at a sensitive juncture that can only embarrass the incoming Biden administration. Whether this is the case remains to be seen. But the fact is that a tough position on China has strong bipartisan support in Washington. Foreign initiatives seen to be cozying up to China would be looked upon negatively by the White House – at the very least, complicating life for the new president and his team. Erroneously described as a trade agreement, the deal is a more restricted...
Even with a new team in the White House in 2021 and a return to a healthy and respectful bilateral relationship, trade differences with our American friends will not disappear. And in addition to some tough Canada-U.S. files, there are other trade issues confronting the Canadian government, notably in respect of China, but including at the World Trade Organization, as well. All of this will require careful handling as we enter the new year. Maintaining and improving trade relations with the U.S. will always be our top priority. Even with the Democrats in office and CUSMA a done deal, there will be trade irritants. And the Americans will always be tough and demanding. CUSMA created a Free Trade Commission that charges the responsible...
Whew. Canadians are showing unalloyed relief with the results of the U.S. election, ending four year’s worth of chaos, unpredictability and antagonism under President Donald Trump’s “America First” agenda. The tone of the bilateral relationship will change 180 degrees under a Joe Biden presidency. Yet when it comes to trade, there are some hard facts that give reason to temper some of this enthusiasm. Here is a short list of items – some good, some not so good – to consider in the days ahead. SUPPORT FOR MULTILATERALISM The Biden administration will reverse Mr. Trump’s disdain and disregard for the World Trade Organization and the multilateral system generally. We can look to the United States removing its veto over...
The established order of things in international trade, the world we have been comfortable with for decades, has been shattered. This is often laid at Donald Trump’s door, given his disdain for the World Trade Organization (WTO) and relish for unilateral actions like tariff surcharges. In reality, the global trading system was in trouble before Trump’s arrival on the scene. He and Robert Lighthizer, his spear-carrier as U.S. Trade Representative, have just been the instruments of disruption, bringing all of the inadequacies and shortcomings of the WTO system to the forefront. Before Trump was elected, I believed that, whatever its shortcomings, the key legal principles and multilaterally respected norms governing the global trading...