August 17, 2017 7:28 am
Updated: August 17, 2017 7:38 am

EEDC confident in Canada’s ability to get a better NAFTA deal

In this April 21, 2008 file photo, national flags of the United States, Canada, and Mexico fly in the breeze in New Orleans.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Judi Bottoni
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The Edmonton Economic Development Corporation (EEDC) is hoping the North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiations lead to a better competitive advantage for Canadian businesses.

Glen Vanstone, VP of Trade and Investment, said along with NAFTA and CETA — the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement — Canada is now also accelerating its efforts into Asia.

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“That creates a real unique opportunity for Canadian business — small, medium and large — in that Canada will be one of the only countries on the earth having effective trade agreements with all of the existing major markets. And that’s a competitive piece that we can’t lose sight of,” Vanstone said.

READ MORE: US takes hard line on NAFTA talks, but Canada is confident going forward: Freeland

He said Canada has, and always will be, a trading nation and opportunities for growth for Canadian companies depend on improving competitive access to the market.

“So I’m confident that the negotiators know what they’re doing, and I’m also confident that they’re going to look at all the issues with NAFTA relative to what we’re doing elsewhere globally. So that we’re not going to be negotiating terms with NAFTA that compromise our ability to be effective under these other agreements.”

Vanstone said the terms of NAFTA are old and need to be updated, in regards to what is happening with the global economy.

READ MORE: NAFTA negotiations: Canada brings list of demands to first round of talks today

“The real challenge is recognizing — when the negotiations are complete and whenever new terms are negotiated — what’s the competitive position for Edmonton-based companies. Has it improved? Is it tougher? That’s the uncertainty, and that’s kind of a wait and see kind of piece.”

At a minimum, Vanstone said he’s looking for a continuation of the benefits, adding NAFTA has proven to be effective for all three signatories “despite what we have heard.”

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