Justin Trudeau’s Latin American tour this week was meant to showcase Canada’s long-established goodwill toward its trade partners in the region, crowned by the announcement of a business deal or two, and hopefully give a push to the much discussed and much delayed Trans-Pacific Partnership.
All of that was before Donald Trump was elected president of the United States, casting a shadow over trade alliances throughout the Americas and adding urgency to Trudeau’s effort to break down barriers and boost investment.
“One of the great paradoxes precisely at the moment that the U.S. appears to have less interest in free trade is that there’s more of an appetite for it in Latin America,” said Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue in Washington. “If the United States isn’t prepared to be a serious partner in pursuing that agenda in Latin America, then Canada is likely to step up and fill that role.”
The Canadian prime minister arrives in Argentina Thursday, after visiting Cuba and before heading to Peru for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders summit. He already has an ally at the Casa Rosada: Mauricio Macri.
Like Trudeau, the businessman — who hails from Buenos Aires province — defeated a long-serving incumbent government in elections last year. He is pledging to open up the country after more than a decade of inward-looking policies and his dislike of the U.S. president-elect’s rhetoric has been widely publicized, once describing Trump as a “screwball.” But most important, Macri needs to bring investment back to Argentina quickly in order to kick-start its struggling economy. …