Op-Eds

It’s increasingly difficult to get a handle on where U.S. trade policy is going at any particular time. The latest twist concerns ratification of the Canada-U.S.-Mexico Agreement (called CUSMA in Canada and USMCA in the United States because U.S. President Donald Trump hates the word “NAFTA”). All three countries have passed internal legislation approving and implementing the agreement. But CUSMA only becomes legally binding 60 days after official ratification notices are exchanged by the three governments. Last week, Canada provided its notice. Mexico did the same a bit earlier. So far, there’s nothing from the American side. It’s not entirely clear why the U.S. is now holding things up. Media outlets in Washington are unable to find...
There’s hardly a glimmer of sunshine in the COVID-19 crisis, just a constant stream of horribly depressing news and worrying statistics, with no vaccine or antiviral breakthrough in sight. The skies darkened even further on Friday, when U.S. President Donald Trump suddenly announced a set of trade restrictions under a Korean-War-era law, prohibiting U.S. exports of medical supplies including surgical face masks made by Minnesota-based 3M Corp. The order specifically bans exports to Canada. It comes at the same time Canada and the United States just entered into a free trade agreement that says in its preamble that it was concluded in recognition of “the longstanding friendship between them and their peoples, and the strong economic...
Legislation in the form of Bill C-4 to implement the Canada-United States-Mexico trade agreement (CUSMA) was tabled in Parliament last month, has been given second reading in the House, and is now being examined by the Commons Trade Committee. Once cleared through the committee and ultimately passed into law, it will allow the federal government to ratify CUSMA (Donald Trump may call it “USMCA” but there’s no reason we have to). The U.S. and Mexico have already ratified the agreement. Ninety days after we do, too, it will enter into force. All three countries will then be under legal obligations to comply with its trade-liberalizing provisions. That will be a great benefit to Canada, stabilizing what has been a very stressful situation...
International business breathed a sigh of relief with the signing on Jan. 15 of the U.S.-China Phase 1 trade deal. Markets reacted with typical exuberance, overlooking the fact this is an armistice, not a peace treaty. But even a short-term downing of arms, if it leads to the two countries moving on to a truly comprehensive trade agreement, is better than a trade war and its global reverberations. We need to see how things unfold. The deal has been cheered in U.S. President Donald Trump’s tweets and other quarters south of the border because of Chinese undertakings allowing greater American market access with fewer tied conditions, commitments for the benefit of U.S. companies only. Commentaries such as those in The New York Times...
As of mid-December, the World Trade Organization’s judicial arm has ceased to operate, an ominous forewarning that extends beyond the WTO itself – a sign that the global order, such as it was, is undergoing seismic shifts. The immediate issue may be at the WTO, but the root cause is the global confrontation between the United States and China, extending beyond Geneva with broad geopolitical implications. The paralysis of the WTO’s dispute settlement system is due to Washington’s refusal to agree on appointments to the Appellate Body – either to reconfirm the appointment of members whose terms have expired or to appoint new members. That body is a vital part of the multilateral system that hears appeals of lower WTO panel decisions....