Today Premier Brian Pallister reaffirmed Manitoba’s continued support for free trade and open markets, which follows the recent conclusion of the seventh round of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations in Mexico and the signing of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership in Chile.
“Manitoba has always been a trading province,” said Pallister. “As we work to reinvigorate economic development and opportunities at home, it is critical that we have predictable, open access to North American and international markets for the world-class goods and services that hardworking Manitobans produce every day. We are encouraged that the response from U.S. decision-makers on NAFTA support has been overwhelmingly positive.”
The Manitoba government continues to advocate forcefully for free trade and the North American economic partnership as part of its collaboration with businesses and communities to expand the Manitoba economy, including contacts at all levels of government in the United States.
“With agriculture and energy being our two largest industries, a healthy trading partnership with Manitoba and Canada is essential to a strong economy in North Dakota,” said North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum. “Trade between our two countries supports more than 28,000 jobs in North Dakota, and last year we exported US$4.4 billion in goods to Canada, or 83 per cent of our total exports. While we believe our trade agreements need to be updated, it’s critical that we maintain the trading partnership that benefits producers and consumers on both sides of the border.”
The premier noted Manitoba will continue speaking strongly against unfair protectionist measures that may affect Manitoba’s exports, wherever they are proposed.
“Tariffs are taxes by another name, and no jurisdiction can tax its way to prosperity,” said Pallister. “Jobs are created by companies that have the opportunity to trade and grow, but jobs are taken away by imposing additional costs on businesses and consumers.”
Manitoba businesses are also engaging with their customers, suppliers, and local leaders to advocate for growing the North American trade relationship.
“The NFI Group operates a manufacturing and parts distribution business that is deeply integrated across the Canada-U.S. border, with more than 6,000 employees, almost evenly split between Canada and the U.S., working at 32 facilities across North America,” said New Flyer president and chief executive officer Paul Soubry. “We sell and support our product to end customers across both Canada and the United States. New Flyer applauds the efforts of the governments of Canada and Manitoba in advocating for continued free trade under a renewed NAFTA which will maximize the economic benefits on both sides of the border.”
There are several recent examples of cross-border investments that demonstrate both the confidence of businesses in Manitoba and the importance of NAFTA to Manitoba’s companies and communities:
• Idaho-based J. R. Simplot Company recently announced it will invest $460 million to more than double production at its Portage la Prairie french fry plant;
• NFI Group, which operates in 12 states and three provinces, recently invested US$95 million to acquire a seventh facility, Indiana-based ARBOC Specialty Vehicles, and announced it would invest US$28 million to establish a new fabrication facility in Kentucky; and
• Pizzey Ingredients, a Manitoba-based flaxseed grower and producer, has recently announced it will invest US$3.2 million to build a 20,000-square-foot flaxseed processing plant and hiring 14 people to operate a new milling facility in Delano, Minn.
The premier noted today that Manitoba has also strongly supported expanding Canada’s trade agreements with international markets outside of North America, including the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership and other agreements currently being explored.
“A modernized NAFTA coupled with CETA and a new Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement will open tremendous opportunities for Manitoba businesses,” said Don Leitch, president and chief executive officer of the Business Council of Manitoba. “The large European market and the growing economies of Southeast Asia will increase demand for Manitoba exports, in particular value-added agricultural commodities. Provincial leadership will be especially important for our small and midsize exporters.”