Potential NAFTA boost for Canada after 'positive' findings in new US survey

By Stuart Hodge

A recent survey claims the majority of American businesses feel that free trade with Canada is beneficial to the US economy, with 54% of respondents saying that our southern neighbours are better off because of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The findings from the new Nanos survey come approximately a month before the terms of the agreement are renegotiated, with US President Donald Trump having spent the last two years talking about how keen he is to change the deal to make it more beneficial to the United States.

This latest poll would appear to contradict his theory that most companies are dissatisfied with the current agreement, with businesses in the northeast showing particularly strong support for trade with Canada.

Pollster Nik Nanos said: "The key takeaway here is that American businesses see trade with Canada as an opportunity. It’s not a threat.

“When we asked American businesses about the benefits of trade with Canada specifically, a majority see it as a net positive and that this is exceptionally so for any businesses located in the northeastern United States, which is part of the economic heart of the U.S.”

The key ways that the United States wants to change the deal will be laid out by the Trump administration early this week, as they have to be published at least 30 days in advance.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau though, stated last week that he does not expect that to mark the start of the negotiation process, as looks to head off potential protectionism from south of the border.

Speaking to a gathering of 31 U.S. governors in Rhode Island, he said: "Such policies kill growth. And that hurts the very workers these measures are nominally intended to protect.

"Once we travel down that road, it can quickly become a cycle of tit for tat, a race to the bottom, where all sides lose.

"I can't imagine that we would start negotiating before the negotiations actually start.  We're going to be responsible about this, to be thoughtful and responsible in how we engage the administration."

The poll was conducted between May 30 and June 10, based on an online survey of just over 1,000 U.S. businesses and business owners.  The renegotiation of the 1994 trade agreement is expected to begin on 16 August.

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