Canadian ambassador to U.S. says USMCA safe from Democrat-controlled House
Rachel Gilmore, CTVNews.ca
Published Wednesday, November 7, 2018 10:34PM EST
While some experts sounded the alarm that a Democrat-controlled House could spell trouble for the passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, Canadian Ambassador to the U.S. David MacNaughton said Canadians have nothing to worry about.
“Obviously there’s going to be some turmoil and some uncertainty in terms of where the Congress goes, but I think from Canada’s point of view, I don’t see any real negative implications,” MacNaughton said in an interview with Don Martin on CTV’s Power Play.
MacNaughton added that he’s aware of which Democrats are likely to take over leadership positions on powerful House committees that could tip the scales when it comes to USMCA.
“For the most part, while I wouldn’t call them fervent free traders, I think they recognize that there have been improvements made from the original NAFTA,” he said.
In recent days, experts have been warning that the midterm election outcome could spell trouble for the trade deal that negotiators spent months nailing down. Those concerns have centered on Democrats potentially pushing back simply to prevent Trump from getting a “win” and the tougher road to USMCA approval in a Democrat-controlled House.
But now, MacNaughton said it is not only unlikely the midterms would hurt the passage of USMCA, but that any changes the Democrat-controlled House pushes for would be positive for Canada.
“If they were going to try to make any changes to the USMCA it’d be in terms of tightening the enforcement of environmental and labor standards, and I don’t think we’ve got any problem with that at all,” he said.
However, there is one issue that remains no matter who controls the House: the section 232 tariffs on aluminum and steel.
While MacNaughton said he’s “hopeful” the Trump administration will lift the tariffs, he wouldn’t provide a timeline for when they might be removed.
“I hope it’s not too far in the future because there are negative implications in Canada, obviously, that we want to see alleviated and I think the Americans are starting to feel it too,” he said.