Arizona economic groups cheer new trade deal between U.S., Mexico and Canada

Canada has agreed to join the U.S. and Mexico in a new trade deal that will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement. (Photo by Nicole Neri/Cronkite News)

PHOENIX – Canada on Sunday agreed to join the United States and Mexico in the trade deal that will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Glenn Hamer, president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry, said on Twitter that the treaty will enhance Arizona’s “competitive standing nationally and globally.”

“As a border state, this is particularly good news for Arizona,” he said. “Mexico and Canada are our Number 1 and 2 export destinations, respectively, and the ties between us are incredibly strong.”

Leaders of the three countries plan to sign the treaty in 60 days, according to The Washington Post.

Arizona leaders say the pact will benefit local businesses and will continue to strengthen their relationship with both neighbors, including the aviation and agriculture industries.

“This agreement doubles what we can send to Mexico without any regulatory barriers,” Hamer said.

U.S dairy farmers have gained more access to Canada’s milk markets, and the deal allows for more U.S. auto production while protecting Mexico and Canada from threats of larger U.S. tariffs.

Monica Villalobos, Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce vice president, said the aviation industry in the state will see a direct gain.

“Manufacturing is going to be the area for Hispanic business that is impacted the most by this agreement,” Villalobos said.

The U.S. had imposed a Sunday deadline for Canada to join the agreement. The U.S. and Mexico had announced its pact a month ago, and negotiations with Canada had faltered.

The U.S. relationship with Canada became strained earlier this year after the U.S. lifted Canada’s exemption from aluminum and steel tariffs on national security grounds. Canada responded with its own series of countermeasures.

Canada’s contribution to Arizona’s economy is year-round and goes far beyond tourism, according to the Embassy of Canada in Washington, D.C.

Rob Pederson, director of sales and marketing for the website, said Canadians contribute to the Arizona economy in a variety of areas, including financial services, real estate, insurance and health care.

“There is a mindset and a history of inclusion and cooperation that has made Arizona such a welcoming place,” he said.

With more than 350 Canadian companies in Arizona and about 150 Arizona businesses opening businesses in Canada, the estimated total in bilateral trade and services is $4.4 billion annually, according to the Canadian government. The traded goods include softwood lumber, aircraft and medical instruments.

According to the Canada Arizona Business Council, Canada has the most direct investments in Arizona of any foreign country. Based on a U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis report released early in July, it accounts for $66.2 billion of expenditures, making Canada the largest investing country in the United States.

Glenn Williamson, founder and CEO of the Canada Arizona Business Council, said he noticed more highly networked Canadians coming to Arizona when he started the council more than a decade ago. It began mostly in the aerospace sector, then expanded.

“Most every single Canadian company has to have a U.S. office somewhere, and lot of them started to come here,” Williamson said. “It started a lot with aerospace and then moved into other realms. Real estate was huge.”

-Video by Abdel Jimenez

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