In a speech at McGill University in Montreal last week, Mr. Jacobson feared that the Republicans might impose gridlock in the Capitol and block any new White House efforts to create jobs and get the economy out of a ditch, a favorite metaphor the president uses to blame the previous Bush administration.
“If the government of the United States can’t address our economic issues, then our economy is not going to do as well as it otherwise would,” the ambassador said. “If we don’t do well, then I think that hurts Canada.”
The United States and Canada are the world’s largest bilateral trading partners, with daily business at $1.5 billion and border crossings at 300,000. Because the United States is by far the larger of the two markets, Canadians often say that when the United States sneezes, Canada catches a cold.
In his speech, Mr. Jacobson added that the new conservatives in Congress also might benefit Canada because they support free trade and oppose protectionist measures like those in the stimulus bill that favored U.S. business.
“You’re likely to have a little bit less of that, and that’s good,” he said.
Mr. Jacobson insisted that Mr. Obama also “believes in free trade,” although critics would dispute that claim by pointing to several free-trade agreements lingering in Washington. Also during the 2008 presidential campaign, Mr. Obama often called for the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, the key economic pact that links the United States, Canada and Mexico.
TOASTING HONG KONG
It won’t erase the massive U.S. trade deficit with China, but the American wine industry is having an intoxicating effect on China’s free-market enclave of Hong Kong.
The trade is so brisk that the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in Washington added a special wine page to its website (www.hketosf.gov.hk/sf/wine/index.html).
“We see a lot of potential for U.S. wine in Hong Kong,” said Donald Tong, Hong Kong’s trade commissioner in the United States. “Currently, Hong Kong is the fourth-largest export destination for U.S. wine, and the United States is the third-largest wine supplier to Hong Kong.”