July 22, 2019 8:30 pm
Updated: July 23, 2019 7:29 am

Economic summit in Saskatoon calls for USMCA implementation

WATCH ABOVE: Economic summit calls for USMCA implementation.

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Attendees at a major economic summit in Saskatoon are saying the United States-Canada-Mexico Agreement (USMCA) — known as the new NAFTA — must be implemented.

The executive committee of the Pacific Northwest Economic Region (PNWER), in a statement, called upon the “Congress of the United States and the Parliament of Canada to ratify the agreement as soon as possible.”

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READ MORE: If new NAFTA not ratified before 2020, all bets of ratification are off: Hyder

PNWER is a group of 10 states, provinces and territories, as well as members of the private sector that are dedicated to “the economic well-being” of the region. The attendees of the 29th annual meeting, held in Saskatoon, included former ambassadors and elected officials and members of the business community.

Mary Scott Greenwood, the CEO of the Canadian American Business Council, said implementation of the new trade deal was “enormously important” because the deal, which will govern most free trade in North America once implemented, is “the most meaningful trade agreement in the history of the world.”

Given that the deal has not yet been ratified by Canada and the U.S., and that both countries have upcoming federal elections, Greenwood worries that USMCA is vulnerable.

“[I]f you don’t ratify this agreement, what will the president do? And will he tear up NAFTA?” she said, referring to Donald Trump.

“If he did that, [it] would be dire.”

The USMCA was signed by the leaders of the three countries on Nov. 30, 2018, after months of negotiations. Without ratification by all parties, the agreement won’t come into effect.

READ MORE: With the House of Commons adjourned for summer, here’s where things stand with NAFTA

Washington state representative Mary Dye travelled to Saskatoon to show her support for quickly implementing the trade deal.

“We wanted to let people know that [Washington state] farmers are in strong support of the treaty and getting it done quickly. They do not want to be the political football at Congress,” she told Global News.

She said that any delay weakens the agriculture sectors of both countries.

“We need to have that access to the markets this year.”

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, who addressed the conference, said that patience and maintaining conversations across the border are important.

“We need to continue to engage, to work through the challenges that we have. And it comes about from being there,” he said.

Greenwood said she was hoping that engagement would be accelerated at the PNWER meeting. She said she hoped that elected officials “will pass a resolution” and that unelected attendees would contact their representatives and be “very vocal about how important this trade agreement is.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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