The Caribbean, Canada and the Trump Presidency


It is high time that we stop moaning and groaning about the impending perils of life with Donald Trump as President of the USA.

Now is the time for thinking, planning and strategizing. These are more effective means of advancing our interests than worrying is. Uncertainty and unpredictability should not trap us into inaction.

The point being made here is that our complaints about “Trumpism”, the obnoxious nature of the man and his politics, will not serve us very well from here on.

Similarly, jokes about the “Trumposity” of the man and his politics will bring us nothing but entertainment.

Whether we like it or not, the person some of us enjoyed calling His Imperial Highness Kingcompoop the First will soon become His Excellency the President of the United States of America.

From the perspective of the countries of the wider Caribbean, our first strategic principle in this highly unusual era has to be establishing and maintaining a united front vis-à-vis the Trump administration: in trade; investment; development cooperation; security; political affairs; and immigration.

Unless we adopt such policy coordination, we will be picked off one by one.

This is the only way that we can assert our non-negotiable position on some crucial issues of our relationship with the USA:; the International Criminal Court; shiprider agreements (agreements in which countries give each other automatic access to their maritime areas for law enforcement purposes such as action against the illegal trafficking of drugs and arms); and, most of all, Cuba.

Similarly, our joint approach to the issues on which we are prepared to negotiate some degree of compromise will give us the best chance of success: trade and investment; immigration and deportation; development assistance for Haiti; and an ethical settlement of the Haiti/Dominican Republic conflicts on citizenship, residence, human rights, and labour rights.

From Canada’s perspective, one non-negotiable issue is access to and protection of Canada’s water resources. Cooperation is acceptable, but aggression and predatory practices are non-starters.

On the other hand, we look forward to the Trudeau government’s creative negotiating skills in four very important areas of Canada/USA relations: the North American Free Trade Area (NAFTA); energy; the environment and climate change management; and, especially, the trade in Canadian softwoods.

The existing rules governing trade in softwoods provide us with one glaring example of Canada getting the dirty end of the stick. The penalties imposed on Canadian producers are so highly controversial that questions linger as to whether secret or corrupt arrangements are at play.

Another example of the obscene abuse of Canada’s sovereign rights is the set of NAFTA provisions for the protection of investors’ interests. The figures on the compensatory payments imposed on Canada are nothing short of an embarrassment.

The incoming Trump era is most definitely one that absolutely requires prior joint consultations between the countries of Latin America and the wider Caribbean, as well as between Canada and Mexico.

United we stand, divided we fall.