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NAFTA: A vital partnership for the Midwest

BY JEAN-FRANÇOIS HOULD
Quebec Representative in the Midwest, 

The 6th round of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) renegotiation is taking place in Montreal, Québec this week. It could be a decisive moment in these negotiations: several key issues are being discussed by the three Parties, and many stakeholders from the United States, Mexico and Canada are in the province’s metropolis.

For instance, the Detroit Regional Chamber and 9 other Chambers from across the United States, joined their Canadian and Mexican counterparts at an event organized by the Montreal Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce. Together, 25 Chambers of commerce made a strong statement, signing a joint declaration, in support of an updated NAFTA and what it will mean in terms of job creation, innovation and competitiveness.

Trade has always been a key driver in relations between countries. It spurs economic development, but also innovation and job creation in integrated economies. The Great Lakes region, which is the third-largest economy in the world in terms of GDP (more than $6 trillion USD), illustrates that point clearly. Trade within the region (including Ontario and Québec) has quadrupled under NAFTA, reaching $1.3 trillion USD. Strategic industries like agro-food, automotive, aluminium and steel, and aerospace depend on that free flow of goods to thrive and compete globally. We build things together, grow things together, and innovate together.


Read more about the Chamber’s trip to Montreal here.


Quebec has been a key partner in that success story. Our bilateral trade with the US topped $66 billion USD in 2016 with a third of all goods imported by Québec coming from the United States. Direct investment from Québec companies has created more than 80,000 jobs in the Midwest alone. On both sides of the border, millions of hard-working families have benefited from our deep economic integration over the past three decades.

None of this would be possible without a stable business and regulatory environment. For a quarter of a century, NAFTA has provided a framework securing and deepening that stability, which in turn has facilitated collaboration in other sectors (think of protecting the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River, for instance). Above all, NAFTA’s framework has opened up opportunities for workers, innovators and job creators, without whom the global competitive position of North America would have been jeopardized.

The overall objective in the negotiations must be to improve a winning formula, not discarding it. To that end, Michigan and the Great Lakes region can count on Québec remaining a willing and constructive partner.