The head of a group representing Saskatchewan’s exporters says he hopes there will still be room for Canada in Donald Trump’s vision of America First.
Chris Dekker, president and CEO of the Saskatchewan Trade and Export Partnership (STEP), told 650 CKOM Trump’s protectionist rhetoric has been concerning for businesses that rely on American customers.
“It’s difficult to tell whether or not those things will actually come to fruition. And that’s part of the concern and the frustration, in the absence of specifics,” he said.
Still, Dekker said he has faith Saskatchewan exporters will be safe once the Trump administration becomes fully acquainted with the breadth of the trading relationship between the two countries.
In the end, he said there can be no doubt the Canadian government needs to do everything it can to maintain preferred access to the U.S. market.
“We’re one of the most trade-dependent provinces in one of the most trade-dependent countries in the world – and the United States is our biggest customer by far,” he said.
Dekker noted Saskatchewan sent 55 per cent of its exports to the U.S. in 2015, the last year for which he had numbers available.
Dekker said so far, Trump’s statements seem to indicate he’s more concerned about trade flows between the U.S. and Mexico. Even so, he said he worries Trump’s plan to renegotiate the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement carries a risk of being derailed by critics.
“From trade unions to environmentalists, it could quickly become a quagmire,” he said.
– With files from Brent Bosker.