Premier set to visit U.S.

Kath­leen Wynne to chair On­tario-U.S. eco­nomic com­mit­tee


TORONTO — On­tario Premier Kath­leen Wynne will visit the United States next month and head up a new com­mit­tee on On­tario-U.S. eco­nomic and trade re­la­tions, as the prov­ince braces for pro­tec­tion­ism south of the bor­der.

Af­ter meet­ing Wed­nes­day with David MacNaughton, Canada’s am­bas­sador to the United States, Wynne spoke of re­mind­ing Amer­i­can lead­ers of On­tario’s im­por­tance to their econ­omy.

“As Canada’s largest econ­omy and the cen­tre of our coun­try’s man­u­fac­tur­ing, fi­nance, high-tech and clean-tech sec­tors, On­tario de facto plays a huge role in our bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship with the United States,” she said.

“Of course there are many ques­tions about what On­tario’s trade re­la­tion­ship with the U.S. is go­ing to look like in the fu­ture. That’s a re­al­ity. We have ques­tions that are not yet an­swered. I be­lieve that we have an op­por­tu­nity at this mo­ment to shape how that part­ner­ship will con­tinue.”

MacNaughton, who gave Wynne’s cabi­net a brief­ing af­ter their meet­ing, said it’s a “very chal­leng­ing time,” but it is im­por­tant for both Canada and sub­na­tional gov­ern­ments such as On­tario to pre­pare both for a new ad­min­is­tra­tion and a grow­ing pro­tec­tion­ist cli­mate in the U.S.

“I think we’ve fallen down a bit on the job in terms of con­vinc­ing them about how their pros­per­ity and our pros­per­ity are so linked,” he said.

“That’s why the reach­ing out to not just the peo­ple in Wash­ing­ton, but the gov­er­nors, leg­is­la­tors, right across the United States is so im­por­tant to build­ing this sense of in­ter­de­pen­dency and how we can pros­per to­gether by work­ing to­gether.”

Wynne will travel to the U.S. next month to meet with busi­ness and po­lit­i­cal lead­ers.

The new com­mit­tee is set to sit at least monthly be­tween now and Septem­ber, “or more fre­quently as nec­es­sary.”

Other mem­bers in­clude the prov­ince’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., the in­ter­na­tional trade min­is­ter, the eco­nomic devel­op­ment min­is­ter, the agri­cul­ture min­is­ter, Wynne’s chief of staff, and the sec­re­tary of the cabi­net.

The announcements come as part of a ma­jor push from On­tario to re­mind the U.S. in a pro­tec­tion­ist era of the prov­ince’s im­por­tance as a trad­ing part­ner.

Cabi­net min­is­ters have been armed with a sheet of talk­ing points to pro­mote On­tario trade when speak­ing to their col­leagues in the U.S. The notes in­clude that On­tario is the top ex­port des­ti­na­tion of 20 states and that the auto parts sup­ply chain is so in­te­grated that the av­er­age ve­hi­cle crosses the On­tario-U.S. bor­der seven times be­fore it is com­pleted. More than $800 mil­lion US in goods are traded be­tween the two ju­ris­dic­tions each day.

Wynne also sent let­ters to the gov­er­nors of 27 Amer­i­can states — the 20 for whom On­tario is the top ex­port des­ti­na­tion and another seven rank­ing On­tario as their sec­ond top ex­port mar­ket — and has re­cently been call­ing those gov­er­nors to speak with them di­rectly “to dis­cuss the op­por­tu­ni­ties to strengthen our re­la­tion­ship.”

Trump had been talk­ing about over­haul­ing the North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment, but said af­ter meet­ing Mon­day with Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau that his main con­cern is Mex­ico, and his goal is be to “tweak” el­e­ments af­fect­ing Canada.

MacNaughton said he is “cau­tiously op­ti­mistic” af­ter those com­ments that any changes could ben­e­fit both sides of the bor­der.

Premier Kath­leen Wynne will visit the United States next month to meet with busi­ness and po­lit­i­cal lead­ers.

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