At­lantic pre­miers talk trade in Steady Brook

Nor'wester (Springdale) - - EDITORIAL - BY DIANE CROCKER

Trade south of the bor­der and within the At­lantic prov­inces was high on the agenda as the Coun­cil of At­lantic Pre­miers met at Mar­ble Inn in Steady Brook Sun­day and Mon­day.

Premier Dwight Ball played host to Wade Ma­cLauch­lan of Prince Ed­ward Is­land and Brian Gal­lant of New Brunswick, while Nova Sco­tia’s Stephen McNeil par­tic­i­pated via tele­con­fer­ence.

At the end of the meet­ing the pre­miers held a news con­fer­ence, dur­ing which Ball said it was im­por­tant for the prov­inces to strengthen trade re­la­tion­ships with the United States and re­duce as many bar­ri­ers as pos­si­ble.

Equally im­por­tant, he said, is to look for op­por­tu­ni­ties to ex­pand trade among all the At­lantic prov­inces.

Here’s some of what was said: How con­cerned are you about the cur­rent fed­eral ad­min­is­tra­tion in the United States and how closely are you watch­ing what’s hap­pen­ing in terms of how it may re­late to your in­di­vid­ual prov­inces?

Dwight Ball

“It’s an im­por­tant is­sue for us be­cause we re­al­ize how im­por­tant this trade is. What we’ve heard com­ing out of the U.S. is that this is im­por­tant, the re­la­tion­ship with Canada is im­por­tant to them as well. If you are one of the states that your pri­mary trade part­ner is Canada, well ob­vi­ously you’d be con­cerned about that, too. So this is the rea­son we’re tak­ing ac­tion.

“So take ab­so­lutely noth­ing for granted and re­al­ize now that it’s im­por­tant for all of us to work to­gether in mak­ing sure we get our mes­sage out there, how im­por­tant th­ese trade routes are to all of us. And just re­mind­ing peo­ple south of the bor­der how im­por­tant those trade routes are to their states as well.”

Wade Ma­cLauch­lan

“We have been, over the past two months as pre­miers, work­ing closely with our fed­eral gov­ern­ment with our prime min­is­ter in a co-or­di­nated ef­fort to en­sure that our re­la­tion­ships are good, that we’re pur­su­ing ev­ery op­por­tu­nity to con­firm and to build on those re­la­tion­ships across the bor­der.”

Brian Gal­lant

“We re­main cau­tiously op­ti­mistic that our trad­ing re­la­tion­ship is go­ing to re­main ro­bust and hope­fully even im­prove. And the rea­son for that is I think we’ve seen with the prime min­is­ter go­ing to meet (U.S.) Pres­i­dent (Don­ald) Trump, a pos­i­tive meet­ing, one in which trade was cer­tainly on top of the agenda. I think we also see many al­lies in other elected of­fi­cials. We have spo­ken to many gov­er­nors about the im­por­tance of trade be­tween our two coun­tries and they get it. They un­der­stand that Canada is not only a very in­te­gral part of the sup­ply chain, but we’re also their largest cus­tomer.”

What ar­eas are you look­ing at to open up trade op­por­tu­ni­ties within the At­lantic prov­inces?

Dwight Ball

“As an ex­am­ple, mak­ing sure that we have align­ment. We talk about reg­u­la­tory align­ment quite a bit. Just mak­ing sure that we ac­tu­ally re­duce the bar­ri­ers that are in place. We see it within trades, as an ex­am­ple, with reg­u­la­tory re­quire­ments that could vary from prov­ince to prov­ince. So just mak­ing sure that we en­able the mo­bil­ity of busi­nesses to work inter-provin­cially just by re­duc­ing bar­ri­ers and we see some op­por­tu­ni­ties within just a reg­u­la­tory en­vi­ron­ment.”

Wade Ma­cLauch­lan

“We’re, of course, pleased that New­found­land and Labrador has joined in the ini­tia­tive of Prince Ed­ward Is­land, New Brunswick and Nova Sco­tia through the Of­fice of Reg­u­la­tory Align­ment, which is do­ing quite di­rect and pro­duc­tive work on bar­ri­ers or where there are dif­fer­ences that can be brought into line. At this meet­ing we’ve con­firmed an ini­tia­tive in the area of trade-re­lated safety. Things as spe­cific as re­quire­ments for safety boots, the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion or licensing of peo­ple who do el­e­va­tor re­pair or who op­er­ate amuse­ment rides. It’s an in­di­ca­tion of other sig­nif­i­cant ways in which our four prov­inces are cre­at­ing an en­vi­ron­ment where busi­ness and work­ers can be more mo­bile.”

Brian Gal­lant

“We rec­og­nize the im­por­tance of re­duc­ing trade bar­ri­ers within our coun­try. Ob­vi­ously, At­lantic Canada is one of the smaller mar­kets, so we un­der­stand that when there are trade bar­ri­ers that are elim­i­nated, that can be very pos­i­tive for our econ­omy. We have to make sure we do it in a very re­spon­si­ble man­ner, how­ever. We also have to en­sure that we con­tin­u­ously in­vest strate­gi­cally in our in­fras­truc­ture. Our in­fras­truc­ture is an im­por­tant piece for our busi­nesses to be able to get their prod­ucts and ser­vices to mar­kets in an ef­fi­cient and com­pet­i­tive fash­ion.”

DIANE CROCKER/TC ME­DIA

Premier Dwight Ball speaks with N.B. Premier Brian Gal­lant (left) and P.E.I. Premier Wade Ma­cLauch­lan (right) dur­ing a photo op­por­tu­nity at Mar­ble Inn in Steady Brook on Mon­day.

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