In the event that Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump succeeds in his bid to be the next President of the United States, some in the Canadian legal community anticipate that their advisory services will increasingly be in demand.
A significant uptick in activity can be expected due to the fact that a Trump administration “not only threatens the ratification of the TPP, it also threatens to roll back existing trade agreements, including NAFTA,” according to Richard Wagner and Martin Masse, partners with the law firm Norton Rose Fulbright.
Writing in the current edition of Lawyers Weekly, Wagner and Masse suggest that a “Customs law renaissance” would flourish with the advent of a U.S. president that “has repeated stated he will ignore international trade rules, which also threatens the ongoing viability of WTO multilateral agreements.”
The authors speculate that such a dramatic revolution in U.S. trade policy will inevitably lead to a growing need on the part of clients seeking “advice on how to deal with the return to high tariffs, minimize customs duties and/or reconfigure their multinational supply chains,” which currently accounts for only a relatively small proportion of trade law work in Canada.
Other probable scenarios vis-à-vis existing and pending trade agreements are also considered in the article, with differing possibilities depending on which of the two leading candidates assumes office next year.
Irrespective of who wins the election however, the authors predict the most likely outcome in either case is that the controversial TPP will not be ratified and a distinctly more protectionist trade environment involving the increased use of trade remedies will take shape. “Clinton has been specific about her intention to maximize the use of existing trade rules to protect American jobs, while Trump has alluded more generally to being ‘tougher’ on U.S. trading partners, including Canada,” they write.
Of course, all this speculation rests heavily on the assumption that the candidates will actually follow through on their populist anti-trade campaign rhetoric once they are elected; something that precedent suggests is by no means assured.
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