New trade deal good for Sask. economy: Chamber of Commerce
The news of Canada signing a new trade agreement with Mexico and the United States is adding optimism to Saskatchewan’s economy, according to the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce.
“Overall we’re very pleased,” said CEO Steve McLellan. “The fact that we have stability now as far as the trade deal goes, but we’ll certainly be looking for some of the details. But the fact that our negotiators, the minister and of course the prime minister signing it today, that’s great news for Saskatchewan.”
McLellan said this is good news, but there are still other economic hurdles to overcome in our province. Right now Saskatchewan’s outlook for the economic future is uncertain and the goal is to get stable.
“We talked to people last year who portrayed our economy as nervous, now it’s uncertain,” said McLellan. “There are so many uncertainties and of course the trade deal was one, that’s done, effectively it’s done. The steel tariffs, that’s the next big deal, then some closure around the pipelines, let’s get them built, let’s get them at least started digging in the ground and then of course we’re going to start seeing some positive results. But again, it’s all about stability, if the climate is unpredictable, it’s very hard for businesses to expand in terms of new staff or look at new markets, it’s very difficult because it’s like they’re standing up in a tipping boat.”
The United Steelworkers Union is disappointed that the new trade deal didn’t see the elimination of steel and aluminum tariffs.
“Obviously the tariffs effect in a negative way our members on both sides of the borders,” said staff representative Patrick Veinot.
Veinot said the union talked to the federal government and were told these tariffs would be lifted when a new agreement was signed with the U.S.
“We did talk with the government and they did give us assurances that those tariffs would be gone and it looks like they’re not,” he said.
According to Veinot, the steel industry has already been negatively impacted by the tariffs. The longer the tariffs stay in the place, the more loss the industry will experience.
“There concern is moving forward, how will it impact,” said Veinot. “I imagine in the new year we’ll see greater negative loss to all of the steel industry and aluminum industry across the country.”
Veinot said the tariffs have sparked larger conversations about increasing their market base.
“We have to diversify our markets,” said Veinot. “If you look at the oil conversation, you look at the steel conversation which Evraz is connected to. If we have only one market to go to, this is what happens. When you have a president that is very difficult to deal with down there, this is where we’re at now. We would suggest as Canadians we really start looking at diversifying our markets and we won’t be in these situations necessarily.”