How to Deal with Trump? Canadian Chamber of Commerce CEO Weighs In
Prince George, B.C. – It’s a question that’s been on nearly everyone’s mind since his election in November and it was a topic of discussion today at the Business Development Forum at the Ramada Hotel – how to deal with the Donald Trump administration?
“It’s a government unlike any that we’ve seen in most of our lifetimes,” said Perrin Beatty, CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. “It will be important for Canada to focus on the importance of the relationship.”
He said the partnership is huge for Canada noting about 70 per cent of our trade is with our southern neighbours.
“And that will continue into the foreseeable future so we need to focus on what are the areas we have in common and how do we consolidate and build on that.”
Beatty acknowledged fears over the lack of a Softwood Lumber agreement between the two countries but warned there’s also a lot of uncertainty in other areas of the economy – including over the renegotiation of NAFTA, the collapse of the Trans-Pacific-Partnership, immigration policy and how that affects Canadian businesses and workers wanting to cross the border.
But he also said there are opportunities – such as Trump’s decision to green light the Keystone XL pipeline earlier this month – something the Barack Obama administration opposed.
“We need to come to the table with a sense of confidence because we bring a great deal to the table,” said Beatty. “We have to come with a desire to modernize NAFTA and make improvements in areas but we should also do so without picking unnecessary fights or without getting our hair on fire.”
Beatty, who was secretary of state for external affairs during the short-lived Kim Campbell Conservative government of the early 1990s, is still hopeful a positive working relationship is possible.
“It’s important for us to remember the fact that we were not the target of Mr. Trump’s comments during the campaign and that’s what’s been reinforced by members of the administration since. And within the American public there’s an enormous amount of good will for Canada so we start from a strong position.”
Today’s Business Development Forum is being co-hosted by the Prince George Chamber of Commerce and the BC Chamber of Commerce.