Donohue in Canada: NAFTA is Key to North American Competitiveness | U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Feb 07, 2017 - 4:00pm

Donohue in Canada: NAFTA is Key to North American Competitiveness

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U.S. Chamber and CEO Tom Donohue.
U.S. Chamber and CEO Tom Donohue.

U.S. Chamber President and CEO Tom Donohue traveled north to visit the United States’ number two trading partner, Canada. Speaking at the Economic Club of Canada, he reaffirmed the peaceful, productive commercial partnership between both countries.

“Our nations are linked not only by continent, but also by culture, by commerce, and by common interest. We have long shared core values and a commitment to free enterprise, free markets, and open trade,” said Donohue in prepared remarks. “It is no exaggeration to say that the U.S.-Canada relationship has never been stronger than it is today. Our relationship has helped establish North America as the world’s most competitive economic region.”

Trade and possibly modernizing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was top of mind in the room, and Donohue addressed it:

Let me say right up front that withdrawing from NAFTA would be devastating for the workers, businesses, and economies of our countries.

Beneath all the debates, arguments, and attention-grabbing headlines, I think our leaders across the board understand this.

Under NAFTA, Canada and Mexico are the top two U.S. export markets in the world. The jobs of 14 million Americans depend on the agreement.

Now, should we consider taking steps to modernize the rules of our trading relationship? Prime Minister Trudeau and Mexican President Pena-Nieto have said they are open to doing so. Remember, things like e-commerce and the digital economy didn’t even exist when NAFTA was negotiated more than two decades ago.

To address areas open for modernization or improvement, we would insist on doing it in a way that doesn’t disrupt the $1.3 trillion worth of trade that depends on NAFTA.

And what about the notion that NAFTA could be pushed aside in favor of bilateral agreements? That approach might preserve market access, but introducing divergent rules would only raise costs. The last thing North American manufacturers, service providers, and farmers need is different sets of rules for trade with the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. That could destroy jobs and hobble our industries. That’s why it’s critical to maintain a single agreement.

As this debate unfolds, the U.S. Chamber will have a seat at the table, and we’ll use it to fight for our shared priorities—and we’re going to ask our friends to our north and south to do the same.

Improved commercial ties will improve the lives of people on both sides of the border:

We understand that further integrating our economies will drive benefits on both sides of the border, creating stronger economic growth and greater opportunities for our people. And we know that if we seize opportunities in trade, energy, infrastructure, supply chains, and human capital, we can sharpen our competitiveness in a global economy—and we can be a powerful and positive influence in the world.

Watch Donohue's speech:

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