Canadian Manufacturing

Canada U.S. relations faces ‘critical moment’ that demands urgent action, businesses warn

Mark Agnew also singled out the Biden administration's ongoing review of U.S. supply chains for a number of key products.

April 13, 2021  The Canadian Press

North American trade is facing a “critical moment” in the ongoing aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, say Canadian business leaders as they embark on a concerted campaign to fortify ties with the United States.

The new Canada-U.S. “road map” partnership is the ideal platform to start reinforcing existing relationships and confronting some long-standing irritants — but time is of the essence, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce argues in a new lobbying effort launching on Apr. 13.

“Simply put, there is no path to our trade recovery without a meaningful renewal of the Canadian-U.S. trade relationship,” said chamber president and CEO Perrin Beatty.

“That’s why the Canadian Chamber of Commerce plans on laying the groundwork for that renewal now, so our members can fully exploit the rebound and recovery opportunities when the time comes.”

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The campaign focuses on five key areas:

— Lobbying the federal government to establish a plan to reopen the Canada-U.S. border “that is underpinned by clear metrics and dates.”

— Ensuring protectionist “Buy American” rules do not deny Canadian exporters and suppliers access to trillions of dollars in proposed U.S. infrastructure and stimulus spending.

— Preserving “tightly integrated” continental defence and security supply chains.

— Establishing a common bilateral approach to both shared environmental challenges and energy infrastructure, as well as supply chains for critical mineral development.

— Redoubling efforts on regulatory co-operation in order to streamline bilateral mechanisms and reduce red tape for companies.

Despite familiar rhetoric from both Ottawa and the White House about the importance of the relationship, it will fall to Canada to ensure its best interests are represented, said Mark Agnew, the chamber’s vice-president, policy and international.

Agnew also singled out the Biden administration’s ongoing review of U.S. supply chains for a number of key products, including computer chips, electric vehicle batteries, pharmaceuticals and critical minerals.

“You can’t go in relying on the goodness of people’s hearts. What you need to be articulating is, ‘Canada wants you to do this, and it is in the American self interest to do X or Y, how does it align together?'” Agnew said.

“What do we bring to the table proactively, rather than just always being on the back foot, asking for things?”