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Lance takes trade message to Canada

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Thu, Jun 29th 2017 09:10 am
Addresses Niagara Region business, government leaders; focuses on international trade in Trump era
By Christian W. Peck
Niagara County Public Information Officer
Niagara County Legislator Kathryn Lance, R-Wheatfield, chairwoman of the county's Economic Development Committee - the top economic development figure in Niagara County government - took a pro-trade message to Canada several days ago. She told a conference of Canadian government and business officials here that Niagara County is committed to furthering bilateral trade with America's northern neighbor.
Lance's address - by invitation of the Canadian Niagara Chamber Partnership - sought to allay Canadian concerns about a more protectionist tone in U.S. trade policy. Lance took the opportunity to point out that relatively balanced trade between the two allies already exists, and contrasted it with the U.S.'s significant trade deficit on its southern border.
"We share a binational economy that is stronger when we are together," Lance said. "I will assure my Canadian colleagues that, when it comes to ensuring freight traffic continues to flow over the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge, you will have no stronger ally than Niagara County's government."
Against a backdrop of a declaration by President Donald J. Trump that the U.S. intends to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, Lance urged those in attendance to contemplate that any new deal would like focus on the U.S.-Mexico trade imbalance.
"We can all breathe easy, I believe, because U.S.-Canada trade is fundamentally in balance," she said. "The truth is, any renegotiation of NAFTA between the United States and Canada would most likely be minimal. We are already trading at optimal mutual levels. In 2015, the U.S. exported $280 billion in goods to Canada and imported $295 billion back."
Lance also made clear Niagara County would continue to emphasize the value of easy cross-border travel and trade to federal officials during any discussions about U.S. international trade policy.
"Our county industrial park is nearly half-filled with Canadian companies or companies that want to ship their manufactured goods into Canada," Lance told the audience, which included a number of Canadian government policymakers from throughout the Greater Toronto Area. "Maintaining easy transit across our borders - through the expansion of programs like Nexus and enhanced drivers licenses, like those offered in New York, and ensuring that freight traffic, in particular, can continue unimpeded - is critical to our mutual economic development goals."
Lance took the opportunity to urge restraint on the part of U.S. leaders as they renegotiate the portions of the trade pact that impact Canadian trade.
"An outright departure from NAFTA, or a renegotiation that completely hobbles cross-border trade, would have negative consequences for the economies of both of our nations," Lance warned. "A renegotiation that benefits the U.S. and Canada, and possibly even contemplates a U.S.-Canada-U.K. free trade zone, and that acknowledges, among other things, a quarter-century of technological change - in short, a renegotiation that strengthens open trade between Americans and Canadians - would be an optimal outcome, and it is the one Niagara County's government and business community are telling our federal officials we want."
Lance also took the opportunity to tout Niagara County's unique Foreign Trade Zone - an area located partly in the county's Sanborn-based industrial park where businesses can forego much of the bureaucratic red tape associated with cross-border trade, and many of the fees and tariffs placed on trade.
Niagara County recently welcomed a Canadian firm, Borderworx Logistics, to the Foreign Trade Zone. The new company provides services such as final assembly of international components before goods are shipped on to their final destination.
"In an era of drop-shipping and three-day-long logistics trains, and where 'supply chain management' is at the heart of efforts to reduce the costs of doing business, our borders cannot needlessly slow producers' goods from reaching their customers on time, all the time," Lance said of the Foreign Trade Zone's impact.
Lance concluded her remarks to the assemblage of Canadian leaders by noting local economic development officials are well-aware that Canada is America's biggest trading partner, and should make extra efforts to nurture that relationship, given Niagara County's three border crossings - and that they would take that message to federal officials as they reevaluate the structure of the NAFTA agreement.
"The U.S. can, and should, reevaluate our trade relationships with many nations, but with Canada, the only reasonable conclusion will be that, as two partners with fundamentally balanced trade and fundamentally similar values, we would do well to maintain an open door and open arms," the economic development chairwoman told the Canadian audience.

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