Senior Canadian officials have met several times with advisers to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump in Washington in an effort to avert a possible trade war once he takes office this month, the Globe and Mail newspaper said on Monday.
Trump vowed during his election campaign to either scrap or renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico, saying the two-decade old deal had been bad for American workers. This could have disastrous consequences for Canada, which sends 75% of its exports to the United States.
The Globe said Gerald Butts and Katie Telford—Prime Minister’s Justin Trudeau’s two top aides—had met Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his chief strategist, Steve Bannon, and believed they had established a decent relationship.
The paper cited one official as saying the Trump administration “does not believe in free trade,” which could pose challenges for Canada.
“They (the Trump team) think the basic problem in the world is that China has stolen a bunch of American manufacturing jobs that they are hell-bent on getting back,” the official said.
Trudeau spokesman Cameron Ahmad, asked about the report, said “meetings have indeed been happening at every level” but gave no details.
The Trump transition team did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report.
Canada’s trade minister, pressed about the potential impact of Trump’s presidency, said last Friday there was no question of separating the two nations’ economies.
In a video address last week to the new U.S. Congress, Trudeau stressed the closeness of the links between the Canadian and U.S. economies.
Trump, a Republican, won election in November and takes office on Jan. 20.