Businesses hopeful Biden win means return to stability

·2 min read

Eastern Ontario businesses are hopeful the election of Joe Biden as U.S. president will restore stability and improve the relationship with Canada's biggest trading partner.

"There's a sense of excitement for a change in administration," said Sueling Ching, president and CEO of the Ottawa Board of Trade.

Ching said business owners are hopeful the president-elect's efforts to prioritize pandemic recovery will hasten the reopening of the Canada-U.S. border, and with it a return to better relations.

Our hope and our strong expectation is that we will be returning to a more friendly relationship. - Sueling Ching, Ottawa Board of Trade

"Our hope and our strong expectation is that we will be returning to a more friendly relationship, one that we've enjoyed previous to the last four years," said Ching. "And that of course bolsters business and consumer confidence."

At the Ivaco Rolling Mills plant in L'Orignal, Ont., they've felt that cross-border tension first-hand. The United Steelworkers estimates 50 of the more than 500 workers at the plant were laid off after the U.S. introduced tariffs on steel and aluminum imports in the spring of 2018, followed by retaliatory tariffs from Canada.

"You can see on the stroke of a pen, so many lives and families affected, and that's what Trump showed us," said the union's Richard Leblanc. "I didn't realize we were so vulnerable."

He said the union is looking forward to a more predictable trade relationship under a new president.

'A breath of fresh air'

So is David Bosse with the Canadian Society of Customs Brokers, who said brokers in the Ottawa region and across the country have been struggling to keep up with the shifting landscape.

"I think there's a general sense of relief that the trade environment globally will stabilize a bit," he said.

Bosse said the sudden tariffs resulted in huge cost increases for some businesses, forcing layoffs and even closures.

"I think with president-elect Biden coming in, we'll find a little more normalized process ... a breath of fresh air after the four years of volatility we've gone through."