It doesn’t look good for NAFTA: Harper

Ottawa Sun - - NEWS - — The Cana­dian Press

WASHINGTON — Don­ald Trump could well de­cide to can­cel NAFTA, Stephen Harper warned Wed­nes­day as the former prime min­is­ter ended his public si­lence on cur­rent events by de­scrib­ing anti-trade sen­ti­ment in the U.S. as an in­tractable, long-term prob­lem with no easy fix.

Harper stepped into the role of po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst dur­ing a panel dis­cus­sion in Washington, a co­in­ci­dence of tim­ing that bor­dered on the sur­real: at the very same mo­ment, Harper’s suc­ces­sor Justin Trudeau was a few blocks away at the White House, dis­cussing the North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment with the U.S. pres­i­dent him­self.

Pow­er­ful anti-trade forces that pre­date Trump’s pres­i­dency are at play in Amer­i­can so­ci­ety, said the former Con­ser­va­tive leader.

He re­called be­ing told by the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion when he took of­fice in ’06 that NAFTA would never have won a vote in the U.S. Congress at the time. He de­scribed how Barack Obama cam­paigned against the deal.

Harper said he doesn’t be­lieve a sim­ple fix to NAFTA, with a few tweaks, will sat­isfy Trump, who has re­peat­edly blasted the trade deal as bad for the U.S., and has a po­lit­i­cal need to show he’s achieved im­por­tant changes.

Harper also said Canada could eas­ily strike a trade agree­ment with a proBrexit Bri­tish govern­ment.

He also said that if NAFTA col­lapses, the Chi­nese will be ready and will­ing to make a deal with Canada.

HARPER On panel

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