Leaders of 27 metropolitan Chambers of Commerce from Canada, the U.S. and Mexico will gather in Montreal on Monday to send a strong message that they are collectively united in favour of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
“As representatives of the business community and Canada, Mexico and the U.S., we think it’s important that all governments from Canada, the U.S. and Mexico understand that we are in support of NAFTA and that we share a common desire to maintain free trade between us,” Zoe Addington, Calgary Chamber’s director of policy, told CBC News.
The meeting, which is an initiative of the Canadian Global Cities Council, will see eight Canadian, eleven American and eight Mexican chambers in attendance — collectively representing economic zones worth more than $1.4 trillion US.
“NAFTA is an exceptionally good deal for all three countries,” said Addington.
“NAFTA has created economic ties between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico that have quadrupled trade, have increased investment and increased jobs.”
The trade agreement adds up to over $1.5 trillion US annually, and that 14 million jobs in the U.S., two million in Canada and three million in Mexico depend on trade between the three countries, said Addington.
In Canada, Alberta is the second-most dependent province on NAFTA — in 2015, 88 per cent of exports from the province went to either the U.S. or Mexico.
New Brunswick and Ontario would also likely be hit hard if the deal were to crumble.
Rumours have swirled about the possibility the upcoming round of talks in Montreal (set to run from Jan. 23 to 29) could signal the collapse of the free trade agreement.
But Addington said worried onlookers should consider the talks as an “opportunity to modernize a 23-year-old agreement.”
“There are still positives to the renegotiation — as long as there is still an agreement at the end,” she said.
Leaders of the Chambers of Commerce from the following cities are set to attend Monday’s meeting: Winnipeg, Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Halifax, Edmonton, Calgary, Brampton, St-Louis, San Antonio, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Kansas City, Detroit, Dallas, Cleveland, Charlotte, Boston, Albany, Veracruz, Toluca, Tijuana, Querétaro, Monterrey, Mexico City, Mérida and Chihuahua.