© 2024 South Carolina Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

What's At Stake For Canada In NAFTA


The United States and Canada - the world's largest trading partners with the world's longest-shared border. We share intelligence, a language, Justin Bieber. In fact, the relationship is so stable that, let's be honest here, we often take them for granted. But as I discovered on my recent trip to British Columbia, Canadians are not happy with us right now or, more specifically, our president.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We're working right now on NAFTA - the horrible, terrible NAFTA deal.


TRUMP: Canada - what they've done to our dairy farm workers is a disgrace.


TRUMP: We'll see what happens. It's possible we won't be able to make a deal. And it's possible that we will.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: President Trump plans to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement - or NAFTA. And many Canadians feel like Chris Finnis (ph). I met him at a comedy club in Vancouver. He's an IT consultant from Ottawa. And he says he feels betrayed.

CHRIS FINNIS: I think it's kind of sad that we spent so many years working towards this. And then, all of a sudden, it's like, yeah, we don't want it anymore. We're backtracking a bit, and I don't like that.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Today on the show, we're going to explore some of the things that bind Canada and the United States together and some of the things that are now dividing us. The NAFTA negotiations are not going well. You could even call them acrimonious. If Trump rips up NAFTA, that could have a profound impact on many Canadian industries and businesses, including one small vineyard in British Columbia a few miles north of the Canada-U.S. border.



GARCIA-NAVARRO: How are you?

OCENAS: Good. How are you?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So happy to be at your vineyard.

Township 7 Vineyards and Winery produces only about 10,000 cases a year. But, lucky for us, there is a tasting room where Jason Ocenas, the manager, pours us a glass of chardonnay.



OCENAS: Yeah, it's good.


OCENAS: Yeah. It's Friday afternoon. We should have some wine.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: There is a good reason I'm here. As part of the NAFTA negotiations, the United States is asking Canada to lift protections on its much smaller wine industry. Jason tells me there's a lot of talk about this among winery owners.

OCENAS: It costs more to make a bottle of wine here than it does in other parts of the world. So that means we have to turn around and sell it for more. And so to have other people come in at a different price point, or be it different marketing abilities or whatever, yeah, that puts a threat to the potential of our industry. That would affect personally the lives of of us who work here.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Out in front of the tasting room, Jason wondered why the wine business had even made it onto the U.S. trade agenda.

OCENAS: Because we're such a small little industry, I don't know why they're trying to bully us - bullying their way into our market.

ALEXANDER PANETTA: You have that kind of indignant reaction in Canada - just, like, what? Little old us? Why would you want to do this to us?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Alexander Panetta is the Washington correspondent for The Canadian Press, Canada's national news agency. He says Canada is trying to salvage the deal.

PANETTA: I mean, the message that you'll hear from Canadians is 9 million U.S. jobs depend on trade with Canada. Thirty-eight states count Canada as your No. 1 partner. But the truth is - and you're not going to hear the Canadian government say this - the United States matters even more to Canada other than Canada matters the U.S. Seventy-six percent of Canada's exports go to the United States.

And, you know, I've seen estimates that if free trade between Canada and the U.S. went away - like, if we lost NAFTA and the original Canada-U.S. free trade agreement - Canada would lose somewhere between 0.7 and 2.5 percent of its GDP long term, on top of an even more abrupt initial jolt. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Lulu Garcia-Navarro is the host of Weekend Edition Sunday and one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. She is infamous in the IT department of NPR for losing laptops to bullets, hurricanes, and bomb blasts.