BUFFALO, N.Y. — President Donald Trump has not been shy in criticizing the terms of the North American Free Trade Agreement and reportedly again this week threatened to pull out of the country's deal with Mexico and Canada.
"We really hope that the president in undertaking this renegotiation quote-unquote does no harm," Buffalo Niagara Partnership Vice President of Governmental Affairs Grant Loomis said.
A day after Trump complained Canada "does not treat us right in terms of the farming and the crossing the borders," the Buffalo Niagara Partnership reiterated its support for strengthening but not withdrawing from NAFTA, a priority established in its 2018 Advocacy Agenda.
"There are certainly things that can be improved upon with the existing agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico, but we feel that large portions of it work very well," Loomis said.
The partnership pointed out Canada is New York's largest trading partner, with more than 500,000 jobs supported by that trade. It said nearly half of those jobs can be directly attributed to NAFTA.
"Buffalo-Niagara employers feel this urgently. In our annual member survey which we conduct in the fall, 80 percent of respondents said they either had customers or suppliers in Canada," Loomis said.
He said it's important to remember any new policy that injures Southern Ontario's economy would also hurt business in Upstate.
"This gives us another opportunity to remind our federal delegation and leaders really at all levels of government how important it is that we continue to advance policies that bind us closer to Canada, not create false barriers," Loomis said.
Rep. Chris Collins, R-NY-27, agreed it is important to continue to foster trade with Canada particularly in the agricultural industry, but not under the current terms.
“President Trump and his team are focused on leveling the playing field between the United States and our trading partners, especially with countries like Mexico that have an unfair advantage. I’m a supporter of bilateral trade agreements and each country negotiating individually with one another. We need to continue to encourage trade with Canada, especially because of the immense economic benefits we see with our agriculture industry. The U.S. and Canada share a robust economy and I am hopeful that we will come to an agreement that continues to benefit our region," he said in a statement.