Trudeau sees steel, aluminium deal with U.S. this month

Cornelia Mascio
Novembre 15, 2018

Many members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have expanding consumer classes and high population-growth rates relative to the rest of the world. Combined, ASEAN's members - the Philippines, Indonesia, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Burma - have almost 650 million people and are already Canada's sixth-biggest trading partner. On Monday, ahead of travelling to Singapore, Trudeau said he would have "more to say in due course" on free trade with the ASEAN countries.

The message Trudeau sent back to those businesses was that they needed to do their part because a trade deal doesn't automatically boost business ties.

On the Mexican side, however, there's an expectation negotiators there are poised to agree to quotas in order to get the deal signed before December 1, which is when incoming president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador's new administration could inject an unwelcome element of uncertainty.

While many Canadian businesses big and small flirt with expansion in Asia, they often retreat from pledges of investment and go back to the trading partner they know best - the United States, said Lorna Wright, executive director of the Centre for Global Enterprise at York University's Schulich School of Business. That poses a problem to trade with east Asia, a region with a relationship-based business culture, she said.

"I think Canada's an afterthought for the US right now in this process".

The Canadian Press Prime Minister Justin Trudeau didn't name names when he said some leaders were using social media to divide people.

That leaves the Liberals in what experts describe as a fork in the road: continue talks toward a group free-trade deal with ASEAN, which could come with big benefits but take years of painstaking work, or convince ASEAN nations that have not already done so to sign onto a newly ratified Pacific Rim trade deal, called the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership - or CPTPP for short.

The ASEAN summit also offers Trudeau a seat at a regional security gathering of 18 countries, including the U.S., China and Russian Federation.

"It puts the prime minister in a much better position in the sense of, he's uniquely on the offensive".

It's not that the Democrats have an axe to grind with Canada or Mexico, but they are indicating that they will obstruct and oppose just about every Trump initiative and that puts the trade deal in peril. Hammering out a final agreement could take up to eight years, Charest said.

But he won't be part of a regional security gathering of 18 countries, including the U.S., China and Russian Federation.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the GovTech Summit at Paris city hall November 12, 2018.

A seat at the security table, which the Liberals hope to parlay into a permanent spot, gives Canada a voice in decisions about tensions and issues in southeast Asia that could eventually reach Canadian shores, such as pandemics.

The discussion at the Paris event was driven by U.S. President Donald Trump, who regularly uses Twitter to fire up his legions of followers and vent at his critics.

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