While many of us have been trying to desperately squeeze every last bit out of summer, the NAFTA negotiations began in earnest this week. While the Mexican and Canadian leaders remained relatively silent on what is going on, Trump was, well, being his usual self. He used a speech, for example, to blurt out that he thinks NAFTA will actually be canceled.
I’m of two minds right now about how things are transpiring. Part of me thinks that we’re so intertwined with the United States that reasonable and cooler heads will prevail to ensure that free trade remains an economic certainty that businesses and governments can count on for the immediate future.
There’s another part of me that thinks maybe it’s time we forget our geographical proximity and consider how we form better economic relations with other countries — ones that more closely share our values. From my own personal perspective, NAFTA has never helped my business. In fact, the guarded border at the United States has at times cost me business and often makes it difficult to properly serve American organizations that need Canadian help.
From a more privacy-related perspective, the NAFTA negotiations are going to squarely put Canada’s data localization position on the table. Large American cloud service providers are tired of dealing with laws (British Columbia and Nova Scotia) and policy (pretty much everywhere else in one context or another) that prohibit Canadian organizations from storing personal information in the United States. Apparently, one way to "make America great again" is to give the country all our data.
I’ve always thought that data residency clauses go against the laws of nature. Data wants to flow. It’s one of the key attributes of the new world we live in that allows us to derive value from data. On the other hand, I understand full well why many Canadians, particularly now, are more sensitive to the issue of their information being elsewhere. How this sorts out during the NAFTA negotiations is going to be interesting, that’s for sure.
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