Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Canada Can't Blink on Free Trade

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Canada Can't Blink on Free Trade

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Canada can't blink on Free Trade

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An editorial from the Amherst News, published Aug. 18:

As talks started this week to "modernize" the 23-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement between Canada, the United States and Mexico, the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council is warning that this region has a lot at stake.

It's something regional governments and businesses know full well. Atlantic Canada exported $19 billion of goods to the U.S. last year, about 75 per cent of its merchandise. Close to 100,000 jobs in this region depend on exports to the U.S., about eight per cent of total employment. The Atlantic provinces send much less to Mexico -- about $102 million worth of goods in 2016.

Exports of seafood, agricultural products, lumber, natural gas and oil are important economic generators for Atlantic Canada.

So, any Canadian setbacks at the negotiating table will be deeply felt here.

But there's a sense that Canadian negotiators might not be as concerned with Atlantic regional issues as they should be.

The United States is preoccupied with auto exports, B.C. softwood lumber and western oil, so understandably it's those areas are dominating the attention of Canada's NAFTA team. Let's hope they don't forget about the rest of us.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has clearly stated that talks must ensure a more equitable spread of economic benefits, or else Canadians will lose faith in free trade and globalization.

While many involved with NAFTA are preoccupied with exports, imports, deficits and surpluses -- and they are, without doubt, important -- Freeland argues that the people with the most at risk are ordinary Canadians. …

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