BC Chamber Welcomes “New NAFTA” – & Business Certainty That Comes With It

BC Chamber Welcomes “New NAFTA”
– & Business Certainty That Comes With It

Flags competitiveness as an ongoing concern





Vancouver, BC – The BC Chamber and its 36,000 members congratulate Minister Freeland and Canada’s negotiating team for delivering the “new NAFTA” – now known as the United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA).

“This marks the end of a trying year BC businesses,” said Val Litwin, President & CEO of the BC Chamber of Commerce. “But now small brands and big corporations alike can get back to making concrete plans when it comes to growth and investment.”  

This is a step forward, but with any trade agreement of this breadth and scope, details have to be reviewed before making a final assessment. Canada and the US have agreed to keep Chapter 19 (the agreement’s dispute resolution mechanism) in place, a material win for the Canadian side. In exchange for American concessions on the dispute mechanism, Canada is expected to increase the quota on foreign imports into Canada’s dairy market and other supply-managed sectors, giving American farmers greater access into the Canadian market. Mexico and Canada have agreed to increase de minimis levels to $100USD and $40CAD for taxes respectively. Still outstanding: Clarity around whether or not America will lift tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

The BC Chamber stands with the Canadian Chamber in its call for Canada to continue to diversify its trade with other countries. “These negotiations have thrown into stark relief how dependent Canada is on US trade,” said Litwin. BC is Canada’s most diversified province when it comes to international trade (with just over 50% with the US versus 80%+ for Alberta, for example), but Litwin believes it can do better. “Our data proves our members are hungry for new agreements like CETA and the soon-to-be-ratified CPTPP. They want to grow their opportunities beyond provincial and American markets.”

Still, the national and provincial economies need serious attention, warns the BC Chamber. “Canada must keep its eye on how it competes more than ever,” urges Litwin, “this past year proves we’re vulnerable.  In addition to securing more free trade agreements, our federal government should simplify and streamline our taxation and regulatory frameworks to ensure Canada keeps its current spot in the international pecking order – and builds on it.”