From the editor: Our new neighbour

Saturday February 11, 2017
Written by
Feb. 11, 2017 - After months of cross-country campaigns, yo-yoing poll results and controversial political analysis, Donald Trump has been elected as the 45th president of the United States.

But Trump’s bold claims to kill NAFTA have sparked growing concern that Canada’s relationship with its largest trading partner could be significantly impacted under this new leadership. Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) addressed these concerns and more last fall in a public letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, with suggestions for how Canada should move forward and protect its manufacturing sector.

“As a starting point, we must work together to educate and inform administrations on both sides of the border about the critical importance of the Canada-U.S. economic relationship, both today and moving forward,” writes CME national board of directors chair Rhonda Barnet and senior vice president Mathew Wilson. “It is important to emphasize the difference between Canada’s trade with the U.S. compared to their trade with other nations.”

According to CME, more than 75 per cent of Canada’s trade is with the U.S. and Canada is the top export destination for nearly 40 U.S. states. The “vast majority” of this trade, adds CME, is in production inputs and machinery equipment to support the manufacturing of finished goods.

“But unlike trade with other countries, we do not simply trade finished goods with each other. We build goods together. We sell those goods to each other. And we compete together against the rest the world. If creating more high-paying jobs in manufacturing is a top priority for the new U.S. administration, then integrated trade with the Canadian market is critical to that growth agenda. This two-way flow of goods, services and people similarly supports both Canada and the U.S.’s agenda for innovation and economic growth,” continue Barnet and Wilson. Their recommendations include partnering with the U.S. on key areas of growth (energy independence, fair trade, and job creation); and aligning on bi-lateral and multi-lateral trade agreements.

Last October, CME shared its Industrie 2030 Action Plan, a national strategy that aims to double output and exports from Canada’s manufacturing sector through several approaches, including “developing a skilled workforce, supporting innovation and commercialization, increasing investment in, and leveraging, new technologies, opening new markets globally, and ensuring a competitive environment in which to manufacture, innovate and grow.”

“Canada directly competes for business investment with the U.S. Without our own advanced manufacturing strategy and without taking significant steps to ensuring our business environment is at least as competitive as that of the U.S., we have great concern that Canada will fall completely out of the picture as a location of choice for global manufacturing investment,” they continue. Poignant words indeed.

This column was originally published in the January/February 2017 issue of Manufacturing AUTOMATION.

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