It is important to keep expectations low for president-elect

United States President-elect Joe Biden is a welcomed addition to the White House, but don’t expect the U.S. to change over night.

Outgoing President Donald Trump is likely going to have to eventually give up his challenge of the election results with little evidence to back up his claims of fraud.

Trump has inflicted havoc on American trading partners and was the base of a deeply corrupted leadership that valued economic and personal gain over human life or common decency.

He bullied Canadians into renegotiating a trade deal, with dairy producers here losing out as a result.

In July, after Trump openly mused about sending armed troops to the border and tried to stop much-needed medical supplies from arriving in Canada, I argued we should be re-evaluating our relationship with our southern neighbours.

Calls for Canada to become more self-reliant have existed for decades and Trump’s actions led to me fully supporting Canada taking measures to become more resilient, like drastically increasing our food processing capacity. That has the added benefit of creating value to agri-food exports.

Despite Trump’s exit, Canada should continue to explore the so-called “third option” of seeking how to live “distinct from, but in harmony with” the United States, an idea first proposed by former Canadian politician Mitchell Sharp in the 1970s.

He argued Canada should “develop and strengthen the Canadian economy and other aspects of its national life and in the process reduce the present Canadian vulnerability.”

Even with Biden in the White House, Canadians should diversify trade with other nations and, at the same time, increase the country’s own self-sufficiency.

Restoring order to international trade can’t be a priority of a Biden presidency still fighting the pandemic — and even if it was, Americans will continue to look out for Americans first.

We shouldn’t expect Biden to immediately fix the appellant process at the World Trade Organization, for example. Nor should we expect him to offer a new-new-NAFTA with better terms for Canadian dairy producers, or try and jump into the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

While he has expressed an openness to multilateral trade, it won’t be his top priority (some reports suggest he won’t have a trade team in place until three or four months after he takes office in January).

Trade deals usually take years to negotiate, and a few more to put in place.

Despite losing the election, Trump was supported by millions of Americans who endorsed his destructive actions by casting a vote for him.

It’s still a realistic possibility that the world is again dealing with an unreliable southern trading partner four years from now.

No matter who the president is, though, American trade policy will still feature protectionism, and still be aggressive.

That doesn’t disappear with Trump.

Biden, like Trump and Barack Obama before him, will aggressively use his power as the leader of the world’s largest economy to get the best possible outcomes for his country.

The incoming president will likely offer a bit more predictability, however.

He won’t disrupt world markets by a tweet, and is far likelier to approach the job with more decency than his predecessor. The rhetoric on wanting to keep international markets open is also a positive sign.

For that, he is a welcomed addition to the White House and American trading partners — but nobody should expect a drastic change in trade policy.

D.C. Fraser is Glacier Farm Media’s Ottawa correspondent. Reach out to him by emailing dfraser@farmmedia.com.

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