OTTAWA, Feb. 8 /CNW/ - Americans are becoming increasingly skeptical of trade with most other countries, but they view trade with Canada as both good and fair. Canada is uniquely positioned to take advantage of this positive sentiment.  A new publication for The Conference Board of Canada's International Trade and Investment Centre argues that Ottawa needs to sell the new U.S. Congress that trade with Canada is "natural."

"The sell is Canada. Not NAFTA, not globalization, not formal trade pacts," said Marc L. Busch, author of the publication. "When the U.S. public rallies around free trade, it rallies around free trade with Canada. Ottawa and Washington have to spend more time talking about the relationship as Canada-U.S. trade."

The publication, Reading the Tea Leaves: The 112th Congress and Canada-U.S. Trade, ( assesses the implications of the November 2010 Congressional elections for Canada. Promoting trade negotiations may be even less of a priority in the 112th Congress than it was when the Democrats controlled the House of Representatives.

The arrival of the Tea Party Republicans, who are suspicious of global trade agreements, could bolster the protectionist sentiment in Congress. Many of the Tea Party-backed representatives have expressed support for unfettered trade, while opposing free trade agreements as government-led "managed-trade".

Trade with Canada, however, is the exception to the emerging U.S. wariness. Research by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs indicates that approximately four in five Americans see trade with Canada as being "fair". In comparison, 41 per cent of American respondents see trade with Mexico as fair and just 29 per cent share this view about China. Polling by the Pew Research Centre finds that about three-quarters of Americans say trade with Canada is "good" for the U.S. economy - no other major U.S. trading partner achieves more than 60 per cent approval on the question.

This positive sentiment gives Canada a real advantage in promoting trade with the world's largest economy. Choice of language is crucial - Ottawa needs to remind the 112th Congress that Americans view trade with Canada as being just as natural as trade with North Dakota. Promoting "Canada" offers a better likelihood of being exempted from potential anti-trade legislation that may come before Congress, such as a future Buy American policy.

Marc L. Busch is the Karl F. Landegger Professor of International Business Diplomacy at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service and Professor of Government at Georgetown University. His previous publications for the Conference Board's International Trade and Investment Centre include:

  • The Perfect (Anti-Trade) Storm? Recession, the November U.S. Elections, and What It All Means for Canada (May 2009); and
  • New Wine in Old Bottles? The Democrats' Trade Agenda and its Implications for Canada

The International Trade and Investment Centre is intended to help Canadian leaders better understand what global economic dynamics —such as global and regional supply chains, barriers to trade, U.S. policies, or tighter border security—could mean for public policies and business strategies.


For further information:

Brent Dowdall, Media Relations, Tel.: 613- 526-3090 ext. 448
The Conference Board of Canada 

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