Am­bas­sador to push for stronger trade ties

Knight Craft also pledges to co-op­er­ate with Canada on en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - JOANNA SMITH

U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s choice to serve as the next am­bas­sador to Canada said she will work hard to main­tain — and im­prove — the strong eco­nomic re­la­tion­ship be­tween both coun­tries dur­ing her time in Ot­tawa.

“I will work tire­lessly to fur­ther en­hance our strong eco­nomic part­ner­ship — the most ex­ten­sive and in­te­grated eco­nomic re­la­tion­ship of any two na­tions in the world,” Kelly Knight Craft said Thurs­day dur­ing her Se­nate con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. “I be­lieve we can do bet­ter,” she added. “If con­firmed, I will seek new op­por­tu­ni­ties to fos­ter fur­ther growth to cre­ate more jobs for both coun­tries, while pro­mot­ing free and fair trade to en­sure that Amer­i­can busi­nesses and work­ers can com­pete on a level play­ing field.”

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion wants to have its am­bas­sador in Canada quickly, since ne­go­ti­a­tions for the new North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment are set to be­gin next month.

Knight Craft did not di­vulge many other de­tails about the role she ex­pects to play in the NAFTA talks, ex­cept to say that she will work closely with U.S. Trade Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Robert Lighthizer and U.S. Com­merce Sec­re­tary Wil­bur Ross on ad­vanc­ing Amer­i­can pri­or­i­ties on the file.

Later on, when asked to share her plans for pro­mot­ing U.S. ex­ports to Canada, Knight Craft men­tioned soft­wood lum­ber, dairy and poul­try as ar­eas where she would di­rect some of her ef­forts.

Knight Craft, who would be the first woman to serve as U.S. am­bas­sador to Canada, said she would also work to ad­vance shared goals on en­ergy se­cu­rity, which she men­tioned is linked to the en­vi­ron­ment.

“I will also work to ad­vance our shared en­vi­ron­men­tal goals, stew­ard­ship of our com­mon wa­ter­sheds, land mass, wildlife, farm life and the air we breathe, from coast to coast to coast, as the Cana­di­ans say,” she said.

Two other ques­tions Knight Craft re­ceived? Queries about years-old re­sults of col­lege bas­ket­ball games in her home state of Ken­tucky.

Knight Craft said she also val­ued the part­ner­ship Canada has with the U.S. in No­rad and NATO.

“The United States is for­tu­nate to have a neigh­bour that shares a strong com­mit­ment to demo­cratic val­ues and works tire­lessly to pro­mote peace, pros­per­ity and hu­man rights around the world,” she said.

Knight Craft is a well-con­nected po­lit­i­cal donor and philanthropist who is mar­ried to bil­lion­aire Joe Craft, who is the pres­i­dent and CEO of Al­liance Re­source Part­ners L.P., one of the big­gest coal pro­duc­ers in the east­ern U.S.

The U.S. am­bas­sador post in Canada has been va­cant since for­mer en­voy Bruce Hey­man stepped down af­ter Trump’s elec­tion.

MARK WIL­SON, GETTY IMAGES FILE PHOTO

Knight Craft: “shared en­vi­ron­men­tal goals, stew­ard­ship of our com­mon wa­ter­sheds”

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