Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau denied claims that United States-imposed tariffs contributed to his decision to sign a new North American trade agreement in an interview Monday with CNN’s Poppy Harlow.
“Did tariffs force Canada’s hand here?” Harlow asked.
“On the contrary, we have been open from the very beginning to negotiate a new and modernized NAFTA,” Trudeau said. He added, “We were always willing to come to the table, to sit down and negotiate. And we have.”
Trudeau also said that he would not use the new trade agreement as leverage to ask President Donald Trump to drop his tariffs against Canada.
“We would much rather have genuine free trade with the United States, so we’re going to continue to work to lift those tariffs,” Trudeau said. “But we’re not at the point of saying we wouldn’t sign [the trade agreement] if it wasn’t lifted, although we are trying to make that case.”
Canada agreed to the United States’ terms in an 11th-hour deal brokered by President Trump. The agreement had already been approved by the United States and Mexico. Trudeau has approved the deal, but Canada has not yet signed it.
It is clear that Canada was indeed pressured into signing the deal and were forced to agree to terms more favorable to the United States. While Canada is most definitely a United States ally, President Trump has made sure that any trade agreements signed between the two countries would indeed reflect cooperation rather than hostility and taking advantage of another side.
Based on the agreement signed by Canada and the United States, Canada should expect a relaxation of tariffs against them by the United States. However, based on the set of circumstances the tariffs came under, Canada has tested the waters of what would happen should they try to negotiate terms that would be unfavorable to the United States.
Whether or not the Canadian prime minister wants to admit the reason he agreed to President Trump’s terms, the whole world saw the tactics the United States used. And everyone surely will not want the same tactics used against them.