Couillard, Wynne in Washington D.C. making case for free trade
Published Friday, February 23, 2018 7:04AM EST
Last Updated Friday, February 23, 2018 2:07PM EST
Premiers Philippe Couillard and Kathleen Wynne, leaders of Canada's two largest provinces, were in Washington D.C. Friday to tout the benefits of free trade.
They met with several U.S. governors as they made a trip to the U.S. capitol.
Several U.S. governors have proven to be quite influential when it comes to promoting NAFTA and influencing the White House, or President Donald Trump, about the win-win-win deal.
Couillard, making his third visit to Washington, told the Washington International Trade Association that NAFTA could be modernized, but that there is no rational reason to create more barriers to trade.
He pointed out that 12,000 Quebec companies do business in the United States, and that nine million U.S. jobs are related to trade in Canada.
"I have yet to meet one governor that has not expressed support for NAFTA. The message is always the same: let's modernize it, let's update it, but please, let's keep it," said Couillard.
"We need it, both countries need it, workers on both sides need it."
He said the 25-year-old trade pact has led to an ever-more prosperous and profitable status for all three countries, but said it should not be taken for granted.
Mexican Governor Alfonso Dominguez also flew to D.C. for the annual winter meeting.
Couillard was asked about the possibility of aluminum tariffs, which is a key concern for this province: 60 percent of aluminum used in aerospace comes from Quebec.
He reminded his American audience that 53 percent of components for the C.Series come from the U.S. and thousands of jobs in U.S. are linked the Bombardier plane, so he was happy to see a U.S. trade agency reject onerous duties imposed on the C Series.
Wynne called for leadership
Wynne said in a speech: "I think the reality is that we are being tested in many ways. ... It's up to us in government to show leadership ... to create certainty in a very uncertain environment... NAFTA is pretty close to the top of that list. ... There's no question that it's creating a lot of uncertainty for people -- a lot of uncertainty for businesses."
Colorado's John Hickenlooper echoed the sentiment. He noted that he and the premiers happened to be at a panel in a Washington building named after Ronald Reagan -- the U.S. president who spearheaded the North American free-trade process.
"We're all making similar points," Hickenlooper said, citing the benefits of economic integration across the hemisphere.
"We see with our eyes that trade has lifted millions and millions of people out of poverty."
With a file from The Canadian Press