As a columnist on agriculture American president Donald Trump is a constant source of material.
That might be good in terms of coming up with topics for this space on a weekly basis, not always easy after writing this opinion piece weekly for more than a quarter of a century, but it has to be seen as disquieting for Canadian farmers.
Last week I touched on the uncertainty Trump has created with his protectionist posturing which includes a threat to the existing North American Free Trade Agreement.
That situation has certainly heated up more in the last week, or so.
It was reported Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has urged Trump not to withdraw from NAFTA in a call to the US president. The call was placed after Trump had come out saying he is thinking about pulling out of NAFTA, something which really wasn’t much of a surprise.
The White House had said earlier that Trump told the leaders of Canada and Mexico he would not terminate the NAFTA treaty at this stage but would move to begin renegotiating it.
Renegotiating is only slightly more palatable than a withdrawal since such a far-reaching deal re-opened will likely bog down in a myriad of issues from environmental concerns, to labour conditions, and of course tariffs.
Tariffs are a major issue in terms of trade with the US, as seen again in the last week, as the Canadian dollar dropped a little following word the US was going to impose a tariff of anywhere between three to 24 per cent on five Canadian softwood lumber exporters.
Trump apparently feels the Canadian industry is unfairly subsidized and that it’s hurting US producers, which of course fits with his natural protectionist leanings.
Obviously any tariffs, or a more concerted move to break up NAFTA would cause economic damage to Canada, as we send 75 per cent of all exports to the US.
While NAFTA might be the most immediate Trump-related threat to trade, his posturing in terms of war with North Korea should be even more troubling.
Trump, who has now ordered missile attacks in Syria and Afghanistan, has been threatening attacks on North Korea, as they continue missile testing that the US president fears could lead to that country having the capability to strike the States with nuclear warheads.
The tension with North Korea has created a definite heightened concern from world leaders, as the situation could quickly escalate to include Russia and China and the very real prospect of a world war.
As an example, Pope Francis has warned widespread war would destroy ‘a good part of humanity’ calling on someone to step forward to mediate a rationale solution.
By contrast Trump remains provocative at best recently answering a question in a television interview about whether military action was possible by saying: “I don’t know. I mean, we’ll see.”
Even increased tensions with that part of the world, with China in particular, is worrisome as that country is now a key trade market.
And so the trade situation clouds even more as Trump continues to bluster.
Calvin Daniels is Editor with Yorkton This Week.