It doesn’t look good for NAFTA: Harper
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