Minister targeting new markets in NAFTA era
OTTAWA One of Canada’s newest cabinet ministers is tasked with making progress on a long-running challenge: encouraging more businesses to chase opportunities beyond the comforts of North America.
Adding to the pressure, Mary Ng, named to the Trudeau cabinet in July, is taking on the role as minister of small business and export promotion at a deeply uncertain time for the critical Canada-U.S. trading relationship.
Industry leaders say there is a growing urgency to help Canadian businesses find overseas markets, pointing to the unknown future of the North American Free Trade Agreement, a cross-border tariff dispute and threats by U.S. President Donald Trump of more American duties on the auto sector.
“The U.S. is an important trading partner — they will always and continue to be an important trading partner — but looking beyond to other markets for Canadian businesses is the right thing to do and it’s an opportunity,” Ng, a Toronto-area MP who worked in the public sector for 20 years, said.
Ng’s small business portfolio comes with an additional responsibility and title compared to her predecessor — export promotion.
She is one of three federal ministers focused on trade. International Trade Diversification Minister Jim Carr and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, who is leading NAFTA negotiations, round out the trade trio.
Ng ’s focus will be spreading the word to companies about overseas markets and directing businesses to government services designed to help them take advantage of numerous trade deals Canada has struck in recent years.
“(Carr)’s the one who’s going to open the door and I’m here to help our companies, our SMEs, walk through that door,” she said.