October 3, 2018
Toronto, Ontario and Cleveland, Ohio – Mark Fisher, President and CEO of the Council of the Great Lakes Region (CGLR), issued the following statement today after reviewing the agreement reached between the Parties:
“CGLR commends negotiators for finalizing a new United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement (USMCA) that updates many elements of the North American Free Trade Agreement. The binational Great Lakes Region, shared by eight US states and the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec, is the economic engine of the North American economy, and is responsible for a significant amount of the goods, services, labor and investment flows that cross the US – Canada border every year.
The agreement reached provides certainty to the Region’s manufacturers, investors, shippers, innovators, and farmers at a time when the global economy is becoming more competitive and increasingly borderless. We are especially pleased with the new provisions that will govern digital trade, small and medium-sized enterprises, customs and trade facilitation, regulatory cooperation, counterfeit goods, copyright, patent protection, grain certifications, and telecommunications.
CGLR also recognizes the changes that will increase market access across the continent for food products made in the Great Lakes, especially dairy, poultry, and eggs. However, it is our belief that more can be done to fix oversupply in the region and low price contracts for hardworking family farmers in the US while helping Great Lakes farmers on both sides of the border take advantage of new export opportunities in North America and around the world so that they can stay in business.
We recognize the steps that have been taken to make the North American auto industry more fair, continental, and competitive by amending the rules of origin provisions. We will be monitoring the implementation of these changes closely to ensure there are no unintended consequences for the Great Lakes automotive sector and negative impacts on consumers.
We are disappointed that NAFTA’s professional categories in the chapter governing the Temporary Entry for Business Persons were untouched; although we recognize it is difficult to negotiate changes amidst the ongoing immigration reform debate in the US. The existing categories make it harder for the Great Lakes Region to attract global talent and utilize professionals and skilled laborers residing on one side of the border or the other in responding to short-term labor market gaps.
Finally, while the s. 232 tariffs applied against the steel and aluminum industries in Canada and Mexico were separate from the USMCA negotiations, we are concerned that they remain in place given the new rules requiring automakers and parts suppliers to source 70% of their steel and aluminum from North America (i.e. the Great Lakes). We understand the Parties have committed to discuss this issue in due course. We hope they will be removed immediately.
In conclusion, we recognize the complexities associated with modernizing a trade agreement when a strong economic partnership already exists between the member states. The USMCA agreement is a step in the right direction, and we hope the Parties will continue strengthening the North American economic platform and the competitiveness of regional economies like the Great Lakes through the Agreement’s various working groups. CGLR will be reviewing the terms of the agreement in greater detail with its members and we stand ready to assist future discussions anyway that it can.”
About the Council
The member-driven Council of the Great Lakes Region was launched in 2013 to create a stronger and more dynamic culture of collaboration between all levels of government, industry, academia, and the non-profit sector in the Great Lakes Region in finding new ways of harnessing the Region’s economic strengths and assets, improving the well-being and prosperity of the Region’s citizens, and protecting the Great Lakes for future generations.
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