Po­lit­i­cal dif­fer­ences put aside dur­ing time of re­mem­brance

Pre­mier would like to see NAFTA agree­ment reached

The Central Voice - - News -

As North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment (NAFTA) ne­go­ti­a­tions re­sumed Tues­day, Sept. 11, Amer­i­cans and Cana­di­ans in Ap­ple­ton put po­ten­tial dif­fer­ences aside to re­flect on the 17th an­niver­sary of 9-11.

“For­get what you read about NAFTA, and the ne­go­ti­a­tions, and Twit­ter wars, that’s not who we are,” U.S. Am­bas­sador to Canada Kelly Craft told those in at­ten­dance at the 9-11 cer­e­mony in Ap­ple­ton. “Sure, it’s busi­ness and it’s im­por­tant, but Gan­der is the place that, in a snap­shot, il­lus­trates the Canada, U.S. re­la­tion­ship.”

The agree­ment al­lows free trade be­tween Canada, the United States and Mex­ico. It was de­signed to im­prove ac­cess to goods be­tween the three coun­tries. In 2017, U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump signed an ex­ec­u­tive or­der to rene­go­ti­ate NAFTA and would later im­pose tar­iffs on Cana­dian prod­ucts en­ter­ing the U.S. – a 25 per cent tar­iff was placed on steel and a 10 per cent tar­iff was placed on alu­minum.

Canada would re­spond with re­tal­ia­tory tar­iffs of its own.

While NAFTA has proven to be a bone of con­tention on a po­lit­i­cal level, there was no sign of a strained re­la­tion­ship be­tween its cit­i­zens.

Craft at­tended the ser­vice to show her ap­pre­ci­a­tion to the peo­ple of cen­tral New­found­land, who cared for nearly 7,000 stranded pas­sen­gers when North Amer­i­can airspace was closed fol­low­ing the 2001 ter­ror­ist at­tacks against the United States.

She fur­ther demon­strated a strong re­la­tion­ship be­tween the two coun­tries by high­light­ing a re­cent visit to the North Amer­i­can Aero­space De­fense Com­mand (NORAD). Dur­ing the trip, a Cana­dian gen­eral was re­spon­si­ble for Amer­i­can airspace.

“Let that sink in. A for­eign mil­i­tary of­fi­cial in charge of keep­ing us se­cure. That can only hap­pen with to­tal trust and mu­tual re­spect of the clos­est of al­lies,” Craft said. “That’s the U.S. and Canada, we have each other’s back, ev­ery, sin­gle, day.”

New­found­land and Labrador Pre­mier Dwight Ball re­it­er­ated Craft’s mes­sage. Hav­ing the op­por­tu­nity to spend two days speak­ing with the am­bas­sador, he doesn’t feel NAFTA is strain­ing re­la­tions. Ball said he used his time to fur­ther the prov­ince’s re­la­tion­ship with the U.S., while dis­cussing tar­iffs.

“(Craft) is a very gen­uine per­son, she un­der­stands how im­por­tant this re­la­tion­ship is,” said Ball. “… It’s a sur­real feel­ing, that you leave an event like this, where we saw both coun­tries and the prov­ince come to­gether in a very pro­found way, then go back to work.”

But at the end of the day, he would like to see an agree­ment reached.

“We want to see trade be­tween the U.S. and Canada… it’s im­por­tant to ev­ery sin­gle in­dus­try in Canada, and of course in New­found­land and Labrador if it’s oil, en­ergy or forestry, we are con­nected as well,” he said. “We want to see some cer­tainty, it makes it eas­ier to at­tract busi­ness, at­tract in­vest­ment into ju­ris­dic­tions where that cer­tainly ex­ist.”

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