As the United States and Canada continue trade discussions into the weekend to see if the two countries can come to an agreement, a Canadian official with an extensive background in trade sat down with The Bottom Line on Friday to talk about where the negotiations stand and what the trade partnership means for the U.S. and for Kentucky.
Douglas George works directly with the states of Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan in his position as Canadian Consul General based in Detroit. He is recognized as a trade expert with experience holding multiple posts dealing with U.S.-Canada trade.
Following a deal reached between the United States and Mexico on trade, talks with Canadian officials are ongoing with many of the main sticking points for the two countries remaining unresolved heading into the weekend.
When discussing the current negotiations between the two countries on Friday morning, the Consul General said after the United States and Canada finish discussions on their bilateral issues, he believes it is important the three countries come back together to find an agreement.
George stated one of the reasons the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is being renegotiated is because the agreement is “showing its age” by not containing sections dealing with issues like e-commerce and others as it was signed more than 20 years ago. He stressed, however, the trade agreement between the three countries is “the largest and most successful” agreement in the world with trade among the United States, Canada, and Mexico growing to be over a trillion dollars and believes it is critical for all three countries to be involved in a new agreement.
Though he would not speculate on what will come next in the U.S.-Canada discussions or what the outcome may be as it is currently an ongoing discussion, George said both sides are approaching the negotiations with good faith.
“I like to quote Vice President Pence when these issues because he said what we are looking for in NAFTA is a ‘win, win, win,’” George said.
In terms of why an agreement is so critical, George noted that Canada is the United States’ “largest customer,” adding Canada purchases more from the U.S. than China, the United Kingdom, and Japan combined.
Along the same lines, he pointed to the strong relationship between Canada and Kentucky as the annual trade between Canada and the Commonwealth stands at $10.9 billion per year, and more than 112,000 jobs in Kentucky are supported by Canada-United States trade and investment.
George also pointed to the unique connection Canada has with Kentucky with the United States Ambassador to Canada being Kentuckian Kelly Craft. He complimented Craft’s work in the position and the important role she plays in the relationship between the two countries and Canada’s work with the Commonwealth.
Watch the full interview with Canadian Consul General Douglas George to hear his thoughts on the current trade negotiations, the biggest issues currently facing the relationship between the two countries, and the impact of trade with Kentucky in the video below: