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Robert Irving, other business leaders meet P.E.I. minister about NAFTA

Robert Irving, left, from Cavendish Farms talks to Economic Development Minister Heath MacDonald during a meeting in Charlottetown Wednesday to discuss issues about NAFTA negotiations coming later this summer.
Robert Irving, left, from Cavendish Farms talks to Economic Development Minister Heath MacDonald during a meeting in Charlottetown Wednesday to discuss issues about NAFTA negotiations coming later this summer.

With North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations about to start, P.E.I.’s minister of economic development says he wants to make sure businesses in the province have their voices heard.

Economic Development Minister Heath MacDonald held a meeting with several business representatives Wednesday to discuss their concerns about the upcoming NAFTA negotiations.

“We want to continue the communication,” he said.

The meeting included several businesses along with representatives from Global Affairs Canada and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

There were 10 businesses with representatives at the meeting, including ADL, Cavendish Farms, BioVectra and Island Abby Foods.

UPEI and Holland College also attended, and there were other meetings during the day involving different participants.

MacDonald didn’t attend those other meetings.

Negotiations are expected to start later this summer on the trade agreement between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico that has been in place since 1993.

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MacDonald told The Guardian the concerns varied for each company, but he said there were “impediments” to the modernization of NAFTA.

“What barriers that the Trump administration are looking at,” he said.

As negotiations get underway there should be a strong two-way dialogue between government and businesses, MacDonald said.

“We have to be prepared.”

MacDonald used Cavendish Farms and Vector Aerospace as examples of companies in P.E.I. that do business in the U.S. and could see impacts from changes to NAFTA.

P.E.I. has as big an interest in the negotiations as any other province in Atlantic Canada, he said.

“I think the biggest thing for this is the modernization of NAFTA as opposed to rebuilding it from scratch,” he said.

Ryan.ross@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/ryanrross

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