CARDIGAN, P.E.I. – Canada’s Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay says he will be “surprised” if President-elect Donald Trump tears up the North American Free Trade Agreement, despite his campaign rhetoric promising to do just that.
In fact, when asked whether he was concerned about the future of NAFTA under a Trump presidency, the MP for Cardigan, Prince Edward Island elicited a hearty laugh.
“I know what he said, but what you have to do in these situations is deal with the situations as they come forward,” MacAulay said.
“I’m sure Trump knows how important money is. Both governments and industry in both countries and Canadian and American citizens understand this, so I would be surprised if anyone is going to try to destroy that system of making money.”
Canada and the United States are the world’s largest trading partners. The two nations exchange approximately $2.4 billion in goods and services every day, thanks to NAFTA.
In spite of this, Trump stated repeatedly during the U.S. election campaign he would renegotiate or withdraw entirely from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), calling it a job killer and the "worst trade deal ever."
He has also said he would withdraw the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which has left that deal in limbo.
MacAulay says he is confident Canada will maintain its close ties with the United States and will continue to be a strong exporting nation.
But he did suggest the future is less clear when it comes to the TPP.
“We have to, again, see what Trump does in this situation and then you deal with it after that,” MacAulay said.
“But no matter what happens with the TPP, our country is an exporting nation and whatever takes place with the new administration, we will deal with it.”
Looking ahead to 2017, MacAulay stressed the need for Prince Edward Island and Canadian farmers and fishermen to produce more value-added products for trade and export markets.
He has also seen first-hand the significance of showcasing P.E.I. seafood and agriculture products on trade missions and at international trade shows as a way of opening up new markets for P.E.I. products.
“I see the opportunity for value-added so clearly,” he said.
“For example, I was very pleased to see two vessel loads of canola being loaded in Charlottetown going to China… but it would be nice if we were shipping some of that stuff in 10-ounce packages instead of boatloads. But that’s what my agenda is, to make sure we create as much opportunity in the province as we can.”
MacAulay is scheduled to represent Canada at the upcoming meeting of G20 agriculture ministers in Berlin later this month.