OTTAWA, Nov 9 (Reuters) – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday said he looked forward to working with Donald Trump after the New York businessman won the U.S. presidency in a victory that could hurt Canada’s exporters and wreck plans to impose a national carbon price.
The left-leaning Trudeau, who supports free trade and higher immigration, is ideologically removed from the Republican U.S. president-elect. In a statement, Trudeau said he would work with the new administration on trade, investment, international peace and security.
Trump had vowed on the campaign trail to revise or tear up the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) under which Canada sends 75 percent of its exports to the United States.
The challenge for Ottawa is that it had assumed Democrat Hillary Clinton would win Tuesday’s election and played down the need for a game plan for a Trump victory. Officials now have to quickly work out how Canada’s export-reliant economy can maintain its privileged access to the U.S. market.
In early September, the Canadian ambassador to Washington said he had already had many meetings with Clinton aides compared to a single session with a top Trump ally. The ambassador was not immediately available for comment on Wednesday.
A source with knowledge of the matter said Trudeau would raise the importance of bilateral trade in his first call to Trump.
Separately, Roland Paris, who served as Trudeau’s foreign policy advisor until late June, said the prime minister should quickly make the case for close economic ties and the importance of the current relationship.
“He needs to be thinking about mobilizing allies at all levels of the U.S. political system,” he said.
A November study by Export Development Canada said exports to the United States could drop between 1.2 percent to 4.5 percent, depending on how radical an approach Trump took.
The Trump win also could imperil Trudeau’s plan to impose a carbon price as part of a commitment to meet international climate change goals. Trump says global warming is a hoax and if he dilutes America’s commitment to combating greenhouse gases, it could make Canadian businesses less competitive.
“Clearly we’re on a collision course with both NAFTA and climate change,” said Fen Hampson, director of global security research at the Centre for International Governance Innovation.
Unlike some world leaders who slammed Trump ahead of the election, Trudeau avoided comment. Canadian officials abroad were instructed not to discuss their preferences, even unofficially, said a second source with knowledge of the matter.
“Personal relations with Trump are clearly going to matter a lot … Trudeau was wise to keep his mouth shut,” Hampson said.