Why Premier Notley's recent visit to Washington matters to your business

Posted by: Kaitlyn Mason on March 7, 2017

Last week Premier Rachel Notley visited Washington to discuss the future of trade between the United States and Alberta. To help you understand what it all means for your business, Economic Policy Analyst Franco Terrazzano has dug deep into the importance of North American trade for Calgary businesses, along with the strategy that our policy leaders should continue to use to advance our trade interests.

With the gaining popularity of global protectionism, now more than ever, our policymakers must continue to advocate for cooperation and free trade. 

Trade with the Unites States has been crucial for Canada and Alberta’s economic well-being. Over 75% of Canada’s exports flow to U.S. markets, accounting for one-fifth of our total GDP. Last year, Alberta-U.S. trade alone totaled $84 billion.

However, U.S. announcements such as the consideration of a border adjustment tax, the renegotiation of NAFTA, the withdrawal from the TPP, and the possibility of tariffs being placed on Canadian lumber may seriously strain our relationship.

To combat these calls for protection, Premier Rachel Notley visited Washington last week to remind U.S. policy and business leaders just how beneficial Canada-U.S. trade has been for both countries.

Premier Notley says “My early engagement in Washington was critical to ensuring our U.S. partners understand the tremendous mutual benefits of our relationship. I’m confident we’ve opened doors and cemented relationships that will benefit Alberta in the months and years to come."

President Trump’s foreign policy is centred around one principle: “America first.” In response, our Premier brought a simple message with her to Washington: the best way to put “America first,” is to continue to pursue free trade and cooperation with Canada.  

This is a message that our policy leaders must continue to reinforce.  

If promoting American jobs is the President’s first concern, then maintaining the world’s largest trading partnership should be prioritized. Establishing trade barriers along the border would be bad for jobs, as millions of Canadian and American jobs rely on our cross-border trade and investment.  

When President Trump advocates for policies that encourage “buying American,” our policymakers must be quick to respond with: no one “buys American” more than Canadians.

Canadians purchased over $431 billion worth of goods and services from the United States in 2015 alone, resulting in a $11.9 billion American trade surplus. In fact, Canada is the number one customer for over 30 states. 

If the U.S. administration wants to adopt a trade policy that puts America first, creates American jobs, and increases the amount of American goods sold worldwide, then Canadian leaders can offer a simple solution: Continue to pursue cooperation and trade with Canada. 

Franco Terrazzano is an Economic Policy Analyst at the Calgary Chamber.