Fraser Forum

The consequences (and benefits) of a Trump Administration for Canada

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Having defied the pollsters, political pundits and betting markets in one of the most divisive elections in recent history, Mr. Donald Trump will become the next president of the United States. Now that the dust of the campaign is settling, it's worthwhile to speculate on the likely consequences of a Trump Administration for the Canadian economy.

I concur with co-blogger Steven Globerman that the main impact of a Trump presidency for Canada will be greater uncertainty about trade relations. Mr. Trump’s neo-protectionist stance on trade, which I have discussed in an earlier blog post, can only have negative impacts on the Canadian economy, which is highly dependent on international trade and investment. Even if he does not literally tear up NAFTA, it’s likely a Trump Administration will be willing to impose antidumping and countervailing duties on imports that are perceived to have an “unfair” advantage. It therefore seems reasonable to anticipate more trade disputes in the future.

That said, a Trump presidency may offer one or two silver linings for Canada.

First, Mr. Trump is likely to approve the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which will allow Canadian crude to be more easily shipped to the U.S. market (and elsewhere). This will be an unambiguously positive development for the Canadian energy industry.

Additionally, while Mr. Trump’s fiscal plans, if implemented, would balloon the U.S. deficit, a watered-down version (which seems likely, given that he needs the cooperation of congress) might reduce distortions in the U.S. tax system, especially with respect to corporate taxes. Importantly, such measures would put competitive pressure on Canada to do the same.

There’s also the possibility that Canada may benefit from in-migration of highly skilled liberal Americans who seek refuge from a Trump regime. However, notwithstanding the much reported election night surge of interest in emigrating to Canada, I suspect that no more than a trickle of Americans will ultimately take the plunge and move north on account of Mr. Trump. Moving is costly, especially if it involves relocating to a different country.

After the post-election hype settles down, I suspect most Americans will find that a Trump presidency does not ultimately impact most of the things that matter to them on a day-to-day basis. By all accounts, Mr. Trump himself is not a social conservative, nor does he have especially strong convictions one way or another. Accordingly, it’s unlikely that a Trump administration would upend the status quo with respect to race relations, the status of women, gay marriage, or other civil rights matters.


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