Businesses Encouraged to Share with Govt Needs in NAFTA Renegotiation

CANADA - The Vice President of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute says as Canada prepares for the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, it's important for Canadian businesses to make clear to government what they need to see achieved, according to Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 7 March 2017
clock icon 3 minute read

Canada-US Trade under the Donald Trump administration was discussed last week when the World Trade Centre Winnipeg hosted the "What's in it for US Eh" seminar.

Colin Robertson, the Vice President and a Fellow with the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, views the renegotiation of NAFTA as both a challenge and an opportunity.

Colin Robertson-Canadian Global Affairs Institute

As an American Ambassador once observed Canadians like to think they know everything about the United States and Americans think they know what they need to know about Canada.

We're both wrong.

We need to know much more about each other but it is particularly important for Canadians to understand how the American system works, understand what our interests are in the United States and to convey those interests.

It's one thing to understand but also to deliver the message.

We are sometimes too shy.

We are sometimes our worst enemies in not being forthright the way the Americans are because part of it's a function of, I think, the Canadian compromise with climate and geography and the fact that we are many peoples that we seek compromise.

It's in our DNA but, when we deal with the Americans, we should not start off with what we think they'll give us but what we really want.

Too often we go in by asking what we think we might get from them rather than what really is in the Canadian interest.

I think it's really important for Canadians to know what it is we want.

A message for Canadian business is they have to tell governments what they want.

Here is exactly what we need and they should, to the extent that they can, suggest how we should do it and what it is we might be prepared to give up.

Mr Robertson says, having been a negotiator, he knows how hard it is to know what we really want.

He says negotiators depend on industry to share what their problems are.

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