Modernization and inclusion were two prevalent themes during a breakfast surrounding the NAFTA negotiations organized by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in partnership with AmCham Canada.
On January 26th, in the midst of the 6th round of negotiations, over 160 business leaders and government officials from Canada, the United States and Mexico gathered in Montréal for a breakfast meeting surrounding the importance of NAFTA to the North American business community. This event featured a dynamic panel discussion hosted by Rick Tachuk, Chair of AmCham Canada with Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Moisés Kalach, Chief of International Negotiations at the CCE and Neil Herrington, VP Americas at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The panel addressed a variety of pressing issues surrounding the negotiations including important insights and advice for business communities as well as NAFTA’s future and its effects on companies.
Concerns about the effect of NAFTA on companies emerged throughout the discussion. It was clear that team work and cooperation will be a key to success. In fact, Moisés Kalach of CCE believes it is important for businesses and government officials to realize that they can do more together. Perrin Beatty agreed, comparing the efforts needed to maintain a prosperous NAFTA to a good marriage: “NAFTA is like a good marriage in a sense, even the best marriage needs work – we can’t take it for granted and we need to look every day how to make it stronger and better. We need to start defining what it means to be North Americans and the vision we want once this process is finished.” Finally, Neil Herrington believed that any modernization should build on the existing framework rather than a wholesale change and will require the efforts of businesses in order to be successful.
The key to avoiding an impasse is creative thinking. Parties will need to meet in the middle on some issues. Perrin Beatty also brought mentioned that the challenge today is the uncertainty surrounding the negotiations. “If there is the will to achieve a fair agreement, there is infinite possibility from the side of negotiators to change wording, find a solution, be creative.”
The business communities from all three countries need to ensure this NAFTA agreement is modernized and enhanced while making sure these renegotiations do not have to occur again in the future. Every business person and government official will have to live with the impacts of the new NAFTA.
We are hopeful NAFTA discussions will continue until we’ve found a suitable solution for all. As Perrin Beatty made clear, trade is not a zero sum game. Trade, and especially NAFTA, can be win win-win for all parties.