What does the U.S. election mean for exporters? ExportWise interviews EDC’s Rob Pelletier

What does the U.S. election mean for exporters? ExportWise interviews EDC’s Rob Pelletier

The U.S. election campaign to date has been called unprecedented, unbelievable and unfortunate, but “consequential” might be a more apt adjective at this point. To that end, we consulted three experts to tell us what a Trump win will mean for exporters, what a Clinton win will mean, and what you can do to in response to the results. 

Here’s what Rob Pelletier, Export Development Canada’s Chief Representative for the United States, had to say about the election.

What could a Clinton win mean for exporters?

There’s certainly a lot of political rhetoric from Senator Clinton that tends to worry exporters— whether it’s the discussion of NAFTA or the Trans-Pacific Partnership. There’s some reluctance towards the TPP on Clinton’s part.

But if it’s a Clinton win, what does she want to change? The U.S. Department of Commerce, which has satellite offices across Canada, is a good place to reach out to ask questions. As they become aware of changing government priorities, they’d be a great place to understand what the implications of a Clinton win will be.

Read things with a critical mind and until you know there’s a specific impact for your sector, stay positive. Every election comes with rhetoric and talk but what comes out is what should be in the best interest of the people and the economy. Take a wait and see view, find out what’s coming and adjust accordingly. Canadian companies are resilient and the market will be there.

What could a Trump win mean for exporters?

It’s hard to say exactly what a Trump win would mean because he hasn’t offered much specifics. It’s been very high-level comments.

With that in mind, Trump has taken a stand against Mexico and that’s a concern, because NAFTA involves all three countries and because of the complexity of our supply chains— in the auto sector, certainly, but other sectors as well. Any decision post-election about trade between the U.S. and Mexico will have an impact on Canada because Canadian companies have significant investments in Mexico in several sectors.

The good news is that the companies I represent and talk to aren’t stopping what they’re doing, but there are contingency plans.   There’s nothing to suggest they’re curbing spending. It’s business as usual. They’re not delaying projects and no one has said ‘I’m waiting to see what happens on Nov. 8 before I do X or Y.’ Having said that, the markets and businesses will react to whatever happens that day.

What keeps me optimistic, or what I find comforting, is how long this trading relationship has gone on in North America. There’s a codependence economically that doesn’t go away on Nov. 9.

What should Canadian exporters be doing in response to a win from either camp?

Reach out to the experts. If you have clear plans on the way forward, EDC can help, for example, with risk-mitigation. My advice is not to get caught up in the rhetoric.

If there’s a change in tariffs schemes, my advice is to reach out to those people who can help. The relationship is so deep and so important, I can’t see that that would just go away, regardless of who wins.

At Export Development Canada, our understanding and our engagement with the U.S. Trade Commission has never been stronger. The U.S. has representatives across Canada. They try to help Canadian companies as they export to the U.S. for the first time. I think that anyone could recognize that what they’re doing is of benefit to the U.S. economy. There’s no reason for that to stop.

We’re also really involved in Select USA. We speak at and sponsor their events. There’s an event coming up in December in Montreal. It’s a full day workshop to talk about opportunities for growth for Canadian companies and how best to go about that. U.S. Ambassador Bruce Heyman will be there with state-level economic-development organizations.

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