Half of Canadian executives say old NAFTA better for our economy than USMCA

It took Canada 17 months of grinding, teeth-gnashing, often round-the-clock negotiations to hammer out a new trilateral trade deal with the United States and Mexico, but that doesn’t mean Canadian business leaders have warmed to it.

Half the executives surveyed for the inaugural FP500/Forum Research Business Barometer poll say they think the original North American Free Trade Agreement was better for the Canadian economy.

“The perception is that there were a lot of concessions made to the U.S. on dairy, on drug patents and things like that,” said Lorne Bozinoff, president of Forum Research. “People are sensitive to those concessions and I don’t know that there was enough promotion of the deal’s benefits. So we gave up this, but what did we get? And I don’t think it’s enough to say it could have been a lot worse.”

The survey of 48 randomly selected executives of FP500 companies took a broad look at subjects ranging from emerging technology to the #MeToo movement and cannabis legalization. Trade, however, was a big area of concern.

A little more than half (52 per cent) of the executives said they viewed the 24-year-old NAFTA deal as better for the economy than the new deal, branded the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, by U.S. President Donald Trump. Just five per cent believed the new agreement was better for the economy, while a third of respondents viewed the two deals as the same.

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