Canada could be 'sideswiped' by global trade disputes, says expert

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Canada will be trading on rough seas this year as it is buffeted by conflicts around the world, says a trade expert.

“Canada is a trading nation and the world is in a lot of turmoil these days,” said Mark Warner, principal counsel at MAAW Law, in a recent interview with the Financial Post’s Larysa Harapyn.

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“We’re going to be buffeted by a lot of international trends going on.”

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Warner believes Canada will be caught up in disputes between the United States, its biggest trade partner, and China and “sideswiped” as the U.S. ramps up enforcement of export controls.

Canada’s own relationship with China is “a mixed-bag,” he said. We continue to “quietly” trade with China by exporting coal and agricultural products to the market.

But Ottawa’s move to tighten its investment rules for takeovers by Chinese and state-owned enterprises in the critical minerals market could cause tensions.

“That obviously roils our relationship with China,” he said.

Canadian pension funds, however, continue to be very active in China, despite the U.S. drawing back.

Canada also has its own disputes with trading partners such as India which could affect its ability to enter the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF).

“I don’t see us getting into that anytime soon,” he said. “My guess is we’re continuing to have a lot of difficulties diplomatically with India.”

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Ongoing disputes over softwood lumber, dairy, auto rules and technology continue with the United States, said Warner.

Canada recently targeted some of the big tech companies with a proposed digital services tax ahead of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) releasing multilateral rules.

“The Americans have pretty well signalled that if we do that, they will target us somehow under the USMCA (United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement),” he said.

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