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Canada has a new trade deal. Now what?

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Canada has a new trade deal. Now what?


by Wayne Karl

Canada, the U.S. and Mexico have a “new NAFTA” deal, the so-called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

Now what?

And what does it all have to do with real estate?

Plenty, when you consider that economic health is essential to the housing market. And though there have been some ups, downs and regional disparities, the Canadian economy for the most part has hummed along for the last 10 years or so.

So too, has Canadian real estate – again, with provincial and local variances.

Without a strong economy, you don’t have job and wage growth. Without those, you don’t have population growth, which drives demand in real estate, whether renting or buying. And without all of that, you don’t get home building and construction, both key drivers of employment and economic growth.

The U.S. and Mexico are, respectively, Canada’s first- and third-largest merchandise trading partners in the world. Canada is respectively the second- and fifth-largest merchandise trading partner of the U.S. and Mexico, and the largest export market for the U.S.

In 2017, trilateral trade reached nearly US$1.1 trillion.

Anything that affects all of that, understandably, makes people nervous.

In its Canadian Outlook Executive Summary, Autumn 2018 – published pre-USMCA – the Conference Board of Canada cited concerns over trade negotiations for a lack of business investment and other risks to the economy.

The new USMCA, our federal government says, offers crucial predictability and stability for Canadian businesses, investors, traders, workers and innovators. The deal will “create good, well‑paying, middle class jobs, strengthen economic ties and expand Canada’strade in North America.”

The Canadian auto industry, for one, is pleased with the new trade deal.

“The (Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers’ Association) congratulates the Canadian government in finalizing the new agreement on a trilateral North American basis,” the CVMA said when the deal was announced. “While we look forward to reviewing the details pertaining to automotive trade more closely, the Canadian negotiating team is to be commended on reaching a modernized agreement which provides certainty and builds a strengthened platform for trade across the industry. We look forward to updates and working with government towards finalizing and implementing the USMCA.”

More than 136,000 jobs are directly tied to vehicle assembly in Canada, the CVMA says. All told, direct and indirect jobs associated with vehicle manufacturing in the country are estimated at more than 792,000.

Anything that risks employment– in Ontario cities such as Oakville, Oshawa and Windsor – understandably, makes people uneasy.

“The completion of the USMCA agreement may not be perfect, but what it does is bring is a level of surety,” Don Campbell, real estate investor, researcher and author told Homes Publishing. “Companies now know the new rules and can adjust their plans accordingly. They’ve been sitting and waiting to finalize plans, investment strategies, manufacturing plant building or renovations. They can now spend the next few months analyzing and planning for capital deployment for 2019.

“It also brings a sense of relief for those in the automotive cities in Ontario, and in fact could move some lost manufacturing back to Canada due to the “minimum auto wage” clause. That won’t be immediate but something to watch.”



  • A perennially strong performer in the GTA housing market
  • One of the priciest markets in the GTA, with median aggregate home price of $1.01 million for Q2 2018, according to the latest Royal LePage National House Price Composite
  • Increasingly diversified economy, not just dependent on the auto industry



  • One of more affordable markets in the GTA, especially for detached homes
  • Median aggregate home price of $533,888 for Q2 2018, according to Royal LePage
  • Hot bed for new home development at the moment
  • Though dipping slightly from 3.2-per-cent GDP growth in the last two years, Oshawa’s economy is forecast to advance a still healthy 2.6 per cent this year, the Conference Board says



  • One of the hottest housing markets (yet very affordable) in Ontario, in terms of price growth
  • Median aggregate home price of $241,081 for Q2 2018, according to Royal LePage
  • 4.5 per cent median aggregate home price growth from Q1 to Q2, 2018 – and 16 per cent year-over-year
  • Local economic growth may slow to two per cent for 2018,after exceeding three per cent every year between 2014 and 2017, according to the Conference Board


“The lack of a free trade agreement between Canada and the United States brought about a high degree of economic uncertainty in Canada in recent months,” James Laird, president of CanWise Financial and co-founder of Ratehub.ca, told Homes Publishing.

“With the USMCA providing a level of trade certainty, Canada’s economy is free to expand at its natural pace. The dominant variable under consideration by the Bank of Canada will now become inflation, and the Bank of Canada will likely use interest rate hikes to keep rising inflation numbers in check. It will be a shock if the Bank of Canada chooses not to increase interest rates on Oct. 24. Canadians should also expect a greater frequency of interest rate hikes in 2019, starting with a rate hike early in the new year.”

Wayne Karl is Senior Digital Editor at Homes Publishing. wayne.karl@homesmag.com 


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