TORONTO – A Wall Street tycoon who advises U.S. President Donald Trump said Monday "things should go well for Canada" if the new U.S. leader reopens the North American Free Trade Agreement, noting that Canada has a balanced trade relationship with the United States.
Stephen Schwarzman, who leads Trump's economic advisory group, met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet in Calgary, Alberta, as Canada braces for a renegotiation. Canada is an export-driven economy and 78 percent of Canada's exports go to the U.S.
The chief executive of the Blackstone Group investment firm said Canada has "special status" and is well positioned for talks. He said other countries have large trade unbalances and markets that aren't as open to American trade as Canada's.
"I don't think he should be enormously worried," Schwarzman said of Trudeau. "Canada is held in very high regard. We have balanced trade between the U.S. and Canada and that's not the kinds of situation where you should be worrying."
He said trade between U.S and Canada is a model for the way trade relations should be. He said there might be some modifications, but there is a low risk of collateral damage if Trump targets Mexico if a renegotiation of NAFTA.
"The amount of commercial linkages, cultural linkages with Canada are such that some people are not aware that it's not a part of the United States," he said. "I know that's not appreciated here but there's a sense of enormous connection."
David MacNaughton, Canada's ambassador to the United States, has said he doesn't think Trump has Canada in his sights and that bilateral agreements outside of NAFTA are a possibility. He noted Canada is the largest trading partner for 35 states.