C-suite cool to impact on Canada of Trump administration

KPMG quarterly survey see benefits but cautiously optimistic.

TORONTO — Canadian C-suite executives are ambivalent about US president Donald Trump and his administration, despite seeing many positives for their businesses, according to a survey conducted for KPMG.

The 46th edition of the C-Suite Quarterly Survey revisited the Trump phenomenon since his inauguration in January and a meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in February.

Seventy per cent of the respondents expect their businesses to benefit at least somewhat from the new administration’s policies and direction.

Many cited lower corporate taxes, less regulation and approval of Canadian resources as positive announcements with four out of 10 expecting to benefit at least somewhat from Trump’s support for Keystone XL.

Business confidence is also up slightly this quarter compared to last, and economic confidence in the Canadian and US economy is up significantly and even more when compared to six months ago.

Yet the executives are tempering their optimism with caution. Only 9% have a very favourable view of the president while nearly half have a very negative opinion of him. Opinion is more favourable towards Trudeau.

Nearly half the C-Suite believes Trump and Trudeau will enjoy good relations – a significant increase from before Trudeau’s visit to Washington.

Only half said the Trump administration is doing well when it comes to economic policy and few have confidence in its handling of trade and immigration.

Resources executives are concerned about a border adjustment tax while services and manufacturing sector executives are concerned about the future of NAFTA, although most agree NAFTA could be improved and benefit Canada. However, fewer expect trade talks will be advantageous to Canada.

Half believe the Trump administration’s posture on trade is reason to redouble Canada’s efforts to reach out to Asia-Pacific markets; and half think Canada must put all efforts into maintaining if not improving trade access with the US.

Telephone interviews were conducted with 156 executives at ROB1000 companies between Feb. 27 and March 24 by Gandalf, a research firm with offices in Ottawa and Toronto.

Click here to download survey results.

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