Trade hot topic as Canada's ambassador to the U.S. pays P.E.I. a visit

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Trade hot topic as Canada's ambassador to the U.S. pays P.E.I. a visit

Trade hot topic as Canada's ambassador to the U.S. pays P.E.I. a visit

Trade was at the top of the agenda for meetings between Canada's ambassador to the United States David MacNaughton and P.E.I. Premier Wade MacLauchlan and his cabinet.

Both the premier and the ambassador highlighted the $1 billion dollars worth of goods that was exported from P.E.I. to the United States in 2016.

"The message I want to deliver to Americans is that they benefit from trade with Canada," said MacNaughton, who was asked by Prime Minister Trudeau to meet with all of the premiers and cabinets across the country.

"Americans take us for granted because our trading relationship and our security relationship and our military relationship work so well that they don't seem to notice," MacNaughton told reporters after his meeting with the MacLauchlan cabinet in Charlottetown.

"So one of the things that we're having to do and I think that they receive it well, is to remind them about the importance of Canada to their security, to their military and also to their trade and that's the message that we're giving."

'Two way street'

MacLauchlan gave the ambassador examples from P.E.I. to take to his meetings south of the border.

"If you look at Prince Edward Island exports, merchandise exports to the United States, on the order of a billion dollars now, a very large part of that, roughly 80 per cent of that would be food, that's food on American tables," said MacLauchlan.

"Indeed much of it is created or value is added by partnerships with American firms who invest and have operations here in Prince Edward Island, so it's a two way street."

It's also a two way street, observed the premier, of visitors between Prince Edward Island and the United States.

"A very important part of our tourism industry and our summer resident population consists of people who have been coming, in some cases, for generations from the United States," said MacLauchlan.

A 'thin' border

When asking about the border tax being proposed by the Trump administration, Premier MacLauchlan said he plans to take a wait and see attitude.

"We'll continue to make sure, on both sides of the border that we understand and that the benefits of a 'thin border' are well understood," he said.

Ambassador MacNaughton admitted it was an interesting time to be representing Canada's interests south of the border.

"It's certainly not dull, it's a fascinating time to be in Washington and to be involved in this," said MacNaughton.

"We're going to have some difficult discussions but certainly we've established a really good working relationship with them right out of the starting gate and I think it'll provide benefits for us in the long term." 

MacNaughton took part last summer at the meeting of the New England governors and Eastern Canadian premiers in Boston. He will be returning to the Island this August when the P.E.I. premier will host those meetings. 

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