Min­is­ter tar­get­ing new mar­kets in NAFTA era

Calgary Herald - - FINANCIAL POST -

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.


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