In Washington D.C., trade ministers are meeting this week continuing to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. In Grand Rapids, Canada’s Deputy Ambassador to the United States visited with the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan providing an update on talks and explaining the economic impacts on the state and local economy.
The majority Michigan’s international trade is with Canada. As an example, 57-percent of all Michigan food product exports go to Canada. In Michigan’s 3rd Congressional District alone, Canada’s Deputy Ambassador to the United States Ms. Kirsten Hillman, explains that’s $2.2 billion dollars in exports.
“We have over 250,000 jobs in the state that are directly a consequence of the trading relationship with Canada. If you add Mexico to that then the numbers increase maybe even close to double. So, it is monumentally significant for this state.”
Deputy Ambassador Hillman points out the purpose of a trade agreement is to facilitate trade by creating a stable environment encouraging long-term investment producing, as she put it “stuff” to sell to each other.
“So the auto sector is a perfect example of that where we have components of automobiles depending on the component, depending on the automobile, they can go back across the border six, seven times before it makes its way into a vehicle. So that’s not about investment. That’s not about simply selling something. That’s about building stuff together. And again, it’s the technical rules that set the responsibilities of each government, under a trade agreement, that allow for that partnership to grow and deepen and for each of us to give our best to that relationship.”
Hillman says there has been as she puts it, “really good progress in the negotiations” with many aspects close to wrapping up. When asked when a new NAFTA agreement could be announced, the response was “soon.”
Patrick Center, WGVU News