No winners in the Canada-U.S. trade war, says Cross-Border Institute

Laurie Tannous, a special advisor at the University of Windsor Cross-Border Institute, hoped for a better outcome for Canada-U.S. relations.

'It's a roller-coaster ride right now, but I don't think this will last'

Laurie Tannous, special advisor to the Cross-Border Institute at the University of Windsor, said people in Windsor 'should brace themselves and hope for the best' regarding recent tensions between President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. (Meg Roberts/CBC)

For Laurie Tannous, a special advisor at the Cross-Border Institute at the University of Windsor, the ongoing tension between Canada and the U.S has nothing to do with auto or tariffs. According to her, the crux of the issue is about NAFTA.

After U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to impose tariffs on Canada was criticized in public by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during the the G7 summit in Charlevoix, Que., Trump berated Trudeau on Twitter, calling him "dishonest" and "weak." A number of top Trump officials continued the tirade on national television over the weekend.

"I was definitely hoping for a better outcome ... We're hoping that a cooling-off period could be utilized right now before things get discussed again in terms of NAFTA and all of these tariffs," Tannous said.

U.S. President Donald Trump sits with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a G-7 summit working session, Friday, June 8, 2018, in Charlevoix, Que. After the summit, Trump referred to Trudeau as "dishonest" and "weak" on Twitter. (Evan Vucci/Associated Press)

Border buddies

Donald Trump's economic adviser said last Tuesday the U.S. has asked Canada to hold one-on-one North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations as trilateral talks sputter.

According to Tannous, Canada's supply chain is too tightly tied with the United States for that to be possible. She said there are 120,000 automotive jobs that could be impacted in Canada and a single vehicle could cost up to $8,000 more. 

"If these tariffs are imposed, the price of autos are going to go up. Everyone's going to pay the price," Tannous said. "Nobody wins in this trade war."

Tannous points to the sunset clause and Chapter 19 as the most volatile points of contention between Canada and the U.S. She said a resolution on those key elements could result in the dissolution of increased tariffs on both sides.

"The number of people that are going to be impacted — businesses [and] communities — is significant. I'm hoping that the advisors of Donald Trump would be tuned into that," Tannous said.

"It's a roller-coaster ride right now, but I don't think this will last. It's not sustainable — for our economy and their economy because we're too reliant on each other."

Natalie DiBiase, Chris Bacha and Ninos Heedo all have one thing in common. They live in the Windsor-Essex area and are concerned about the recent division between the U.S. and Canada. (Meg Roberts/CBC)

Living in a border city

For people living in Windsor, Ont., current tensions between Trudeau and Trump have been unsettling to say the least.

Natalie DiBiase of Amherstburg said Trump should back down for the sake of peace.

"I definitely do feel a little bit of tension because we should be in partnership with them. We do all of their trading deals and we make money off them," DiBiase said. "We don't need any war. We don't need any problems."

For Chris Bacha of Windsor, his concerns about the relationship between the two countries is a result of shortsighted thinking from the U.S. President.

"He is trying to put his country first, but he also needs to think that we are a continent — that if one country is suffering, they're going to suffer too," Bacha said. "As long as both countries are doing well, trade will be good. We'll buy more from them. They'll buy more from us."

Ninos Heedo, a dual-citizen of both the U.S. and Canada, moved from California to Québec before settling in Windsor. He said Trump's recent tweets against Trudeau are based in a "one-track" mindset.

"This is the kind of stuff we've been seeing from [Trump] ever since he came into office. It's not surprising," Heedo said.

with files from the CBC's Meg Roberts


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