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Patrick Sullivan, President and CEO, Halifax Chamber of Commerce

Canada’s Chambers of Commerce come together for NAFTA

At the end of January, the eight largest Chambers of Commerce in Canada, 11 American Chambers of Commerce and eight Mexican Chambers met in Montreal to ask their respective governments of the three member-states to renew NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), modernize it and maintain open access to the American market.

I, along with 26 of my comrades from metropolitan Chambers of Commerce from across North America, gathered to discuss the agreement’s renewal. It was encouraging to be joined by so many to discuss the importance of NAFTA to our business communities. Our collective Chambers of Commerce work with thousands of members whose businesses have flourished because of NAFTA and this agreement supports millions of jobs across North America.

The event was an initiative of the Canadian Global Cities Council (CGCC), a coalition of Canada’s eight largest metropolitan Chambers of Commerce, Halifax included, who were all represented at the event. Collectively, the Chambers that attended represent economic zones that are worth more than USD $1.4 trillion. Our goal was to send a strong message to the three governments on the importance of renewing and modernizing the agreement and maintaining open access to the North American market.

Here are the key takeaways for Halifax:

• Nova Scotia has great products and strong service suppliers. We have a valuable two-way flow of goods, services and investments between our partners in the United States, which has directly contributed to the success of our local economy.

• In 2016, exports from Nova Scotia to the United States totalled $3.6 billion and we want that to continue and grow.

• As Nova Scotians, we should encourage our networks to learn more about NAFTA and how it affects our sustainability for growth. NAFTA has provided North America with one of the strongest economic relationships in the world and I believe there is room to grow. We can improve on the agreement to meet our current needs, while strengthening what we’ve already established. Chambers of Commerce from Canada, the United States and Mexico are ready to roll up their sleeves and put the work in — are all three governments?

What is the Canadian Global Cities Council?

Founded in 2015, the Canadian Global Cities Council (CGCC) is a coalition of presidents and CEOs of the eight largest urban regional Chambers of Commerce and boards of trade in Canada: Brampton, Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver and Winnipeg. Representing 52 percent of Canada’s GDP and more than half of the country’s population, CGCC collaborates on international and domestic issues impacting our regions’ competitiveness. Infrastructure, the economic environment, trade and talent are its priority concerns.

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