Quebec manufacturers cautiously optimistic of Biden administration

workers

With new leaders calling the shots, Quebec manufacturers fear democrats will turn inward on manufacturing.

President-elect Joe Biden campaigned on promises of several billion-dollar investments in American manufacturing. His ‘Buy American’ plan comes with a $400 billion budget for purchasing U.S. manufactured goods, and $300 billion for research and technology.

“Democrats have traditionally been focused on protectionism,” said Véronique Proulx, president and CEO of Manufacturiers et Exportateurs du Québec (MEQ) in a Sunday press release. “Diplomatic ties … will have to be strengthened.”

So what should Quebecers expect?

TRUMP-ERA TENSIONS

Economists have predicted some relief from Trump-style volatility, escaping an era of “roller coaster renegotiation,” as defined by Proulx, on NAFTA and tariffs on aluminum and steel. For one stinging example, Canada was labelled a ‘national security threat’ in 2018 by the U.S. to justify trade restrictions on Canadian steel.

Canada’s aluminium industry, which employs nearly 8,000 people in Quebec, was accused of ‘decimating’ American manufacturing by Trump as he introduced tariffs against Canadian exports. Those tariffs were dropped after Deputy Prime Minister and lead on Canada-U.S. relations Chrystia Freeland called the Trump administration “the most protectionist administration in U.S. history.”

Volatile, but still generally profitable. According to MEQ, Quebec's merchandise exports to the United States have increased over the past few years, going from $57 billion in 2016 to $66 billion in 2019.

As Biden prepares to take office, Proulx says MEQ is hoping for some stability.

DON’T FORGET ABOUT THE PANDEMIC

Concordia economics professor Moshe Lander says Canadians shouldn’t expect a drastic change in export policy right away.

With borders closed, and small businesses suffering on both sides, people are under pressure to buy local, which is bad news for those interested in selling products across a border that’s not expected to open any time soon.

THE REAL RACE IS IN THE SENATE

With results still coming in, the senate is projected to be a deadlock, or remain under Republican control.

Lander says Canadians may need to wait until January, when two “absolutely critical” senate seats will be up for grabs in Georgia.

“The left wing could become very vocal,” said Lander.

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