Donald Trump will be the 45th president of the United States.
His road to the White House was unconventional, to say the least. Along the way, he took shots at the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – both trade deals that would greatly impact Canada and Saskatchewan.
“There’s reason for apprehension. It really depends on how – or to what extent – the political promises and campaign rhetoric is turned into policy,” said Chris Dekker, president and CEO of Saskatchewan Trade and Export Partnership (STEP).
“Anti-trade rhetoric had been a constant theme throughout the election with particular tension given to the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.”
Dekker explained that, because Saskatchewan’s domestic market is small, exports are key – and a large chunk of exports go to the United States, Saskatchewan’s number one customer now for decades.
“Anywhere between 60 to 65 per cent of what we export goes to the United States so it’s important, it’s important to us all,” Dekker said.
Dekker acknowledged there is time, as Trump is not sworn into office until noon on Jan. 20, 2017.
“We know that Donald Trump has routinely said he would renegotiate NAFTA and as has even threatened to bow out of the deal altogether if the other two trading partners – us and Mexico – are not willing to negotiate.”
“Likewise for TPP – even though it’s been supported and it’s been signed by the 12 countries negotiating, it has yet to be ratified and Trump has taken a position against TPP.”
The U.S. ambassador to Canada said the current administration will use the end of its term to win congressional approval for TPP.
In the meantime, Dekker said it’s important for Saskatchewan to continue to what it’s been doing throughout the past couple decades.
“That is ensure our market – our biggest market – in the U.S. is secure so we promote the mutual benefits of free trade that has occurred to the United States and Canada over the last several years.”
Dekker said it’s also important for Saskatchewan to be proactive in promoting its goods and services, while looking beyond the United States to markets in other countries.