Pre­par­ing for NAFTA talks

Busi­nesses, Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Heath Mac­Don­ald meet to dis­cuss con­cerns about up­com­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY RYAN ROSS

With North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment ne­go­ti­a­tions about to start, P.E.I.’s min­is­ter of eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment says he wants to make sure busi­nesses in the prov­ince have their voices heard.

Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Heath Mac­Don­ald held a meet­ing with sev­eral busi­ness rep­re­sen­ta­tives Wed­nes­day to dis­cuss their con­cerns about the up­com­ing NAFTA ne­go­ti­a­tions.

“We want to con­tinue the com­mu­ni­ca­tion,” he said.

The meet­ing in­cluded sev­eral busi­nesses along with rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Global Af­fairs Canada and Agri­cul­ture and Agri-Food Canada.

There were 10 busi­nesses with rep­re­sen­ta­tives at the meet­ing, in­clud­ing ADL, Cavendish Farms, BioVec­tra and Is­land Abby Foods.

UPEI and Hol­land Col­lege also at­tended, and there were other meet­ings dur­ing the day in­volv­ing different par­tic­i­pants.

Mac­Don­ald didn’t at­tend those other meet­ings.

Ne­go­ti­a­tions are ex­pected to start later this sum­mer on the trade agree­ment be­tween Canada, the U.S. and Mex­ico that has been in place since 1993.

Mac­Don­ald told The Guardian the con­cerns var­ied for each com­pany, but he said there were “im­ped­i­ments” to the mod­ern­iza­tion of NAFTA.

“What bar­ri­ers that the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion are look­ing at,” he said.

As ne­go­ti­a­tions get un­der­way there should be a strong two-way di­a­logue be­tween gov­ern­ment and busi­nesses, Mac­Don­ald said.

“We have to be pre­pared.” Mac­Don­ald used Cavendish Farms and Vec­tor Aero­space as ex­am­ples of com­pa­nies in P.E.I. that do busi­ness in the U.S. and could see im­pacts from changes to NAFTA.

P.E.I. has as big an in­ter­est in the ne­go­ti­a­tions as any other prov­ince in At­lantic Canada, he said.

“I think the big­gest thing for this is the mod­ern­iza­tion of NAFTA as op­posed to re­build­ing it from scratch,” he said.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Robert Irv­ing, left, from Cavendish Farms talks to Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Heath Mac­Don­ald dur­ing a meet­ing in Char­lot­te­town Wed­nes­day to dis­cuss is­sues about NAFTA ne­go­ti­a­tions com­ing later this sum­mer.

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