Should the U.S. follow through on threats to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement, the Canadian dollar would absorb much of the blow.
That’s the view of JPMorgan Chase & Co., who forecast that the loonie could crumble nearly 10 percent against the dollar in the worst case “NoFTA” scenario. A U.S. withdrawal would likely entail 25 percent tariffs on autos and dairy, disrupting supply chains and forcing the Bank of Canada to slash interest rates, according to analysts including Daniel Hui.
“The worst-case NoFTA could mean USD/CAD at 1.43 as the market prices a ‘safety-net’ 50bp cut by BoC,” they wrote in a Sept. 21 note. “A potential overshoot would also probably be unbound and thus larger versus the best-case scenario, given the large unknowns.”
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer Tuesday said that the two sides were running out of time to reach an agreement on Nafta and that a fair amount of distance remained between the U.S. and Canada.
Fitch Ratings echoed JPMorgan’s concerns in a report on Monday, writing that a “significant tariff or trade shock” could lead the BOC to pause raising rates in order to help borrowers.
The dollar has gained nearly 3 percent this year against the loonie, trading at C$1.2946 as of 10:38 a.m. in New York. Should negotiations produce a reaffirmed basic trilateral agreement—- JPMorgan’s “best case” scenario—the loonie could strengthen to C$1.24, the analysts wrote.
While the U.S. and Mexico pursue a bilateral trade deal, Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland left Washington last week without a resolution. U.S. trade adviser Peter Navarro said Tuesday that he expects Congress to take up the Nafta deal after the U.S. midterm elections, regardless of the outcome of the November vote.