By Michel Kelly-Gagnon, President and CEO of the MEI
The North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations are fast approaching the May 18 deadline that U.S. officials say needs to be respected in order to secure congressional approval under the president’s existing authority this year. With a presidential election in Mexico in July and mid-term elections in the U.S. in November, now would be a good time for a deal. But various obstacles remain; for example, in the interdependent auto sector.
From the outside looking in, the whole thing sure looks a lot more complicated than it needs to be. Why can’t we just agree to let people and companies trade with each other when they want to, and pretty much let it go at that? After all, if trade is voluntary, both sides come out ahead. That doesn’t change just because it happens across a political border.
Once upon a time, trade deals were indeed very simple and straightforward. Take the 1860 Cobden–Chevalier Treaty between the United Kingdom and France. Britain had been moving unilaterally toward freer trade since the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846, but the treaty reduced French duties on most British manufactured …read more