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Businesses optimistic about country-wide trade deal

Published by CME Manitoba on March 31, 2017

This article appeared in the Winnipeg Free Press on  March 31, 2017

CFTA may help increase product sales across the country

Everyone from the manager of a local craft brewery to spokesmen for the province’s manufacturing and trucking industries are expecting good things to come from the new free trade agreement between Canada’s provinces and territories.

"The marketplace in a freer environment will really help every citizen in terms of lower costs (for goods and services)," said Ron Koslowsky, vice-president of the Manitoba Division of the Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters (CME).

"That is fundamentally what the argument is for freer trade."

"Our province is a province of traders and our nation is a nation of traders... and a lot of that trade is facilitated over the highways by the trucking industry," added Manitoba Trucking Association executive director Terry Shaw. "So whatever can be done to make our travels more efficient... is good for us."

Orest Horechko, general manager of Fort Garry Breweries Company, said the craft brewer only exports its products to Saskatchewan and Alberta at the moment. However, it would love to be selling its products across the country and hopefully the new Canada Free Trade Agreement will enable that to happen.

"And if we can sell more beer, we can employ more people," he said.

In Thursday’s Free Press, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister described the new Canada Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) as "a positive, positive piece of news for our country." He said a formal signing ceremony is expected to take place in days.

The premier noted one of the benefits of the new deal is it will allow for greater movement of workers between provinces. That’s music to the ears of Mike Raftis, Vice President, Sales and Marketing for Bothwell Cheese. Raftis said Bothwell often has difficulty finding enough skilled cheesemakers.

But some other provinces have much a much bigger cheese-manufacturing sector, he added, so if CFTA makes it easier for some of those workers to move to Manitoba that could be great for this province’s industry.

"I see that (the freer movement of workers) as the... real benefit that comes out of this for us," he said, noting the company already sells its products across the country.

John McCallum, an economist with the University of Manitoba’s Asper School of Business, said Manitoba is an economically diversified province with a lot of services and a disproportionate amount of manufacturing.

"Provinces favour, at times, local producers and service providers," he noted.

"So yes, for a small province that’s structured like us, every incremental step that opens bidding (on contracts) and the flow of goods and services and people between the provinces is good for us."

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