'Put this to rest:' Business leaders from both sides of the border meet to address trade dispute
Published Tuesday, July 10, 2018 6:11PM CST
For 40 years Randy Mathern has installed furnaces, air conditioners and ducts.
The Bismarck North Dakota business owner says his costs have jumped recently.
"We're looking at double digit increases this year on a lot of our steel related products which is just about everything we do," said Mathern.
The culprit behind those increases—the Trump administration's tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum, followed by retaliatory ones from the Trudeau government.
Mathern says he can't afford to eat the extra price hikes related to the tariffs.
"It ultimately has to be passed on to the final bill payer, ultimately they pass it on to the consumer."
In an effort to help put an end to the trade dispute, the Manitoba and Saskatchewan Chambers of Commerce met with counterparts from across North Dakota in Bismarck, Tuesday.
The goal of the meeting—put pressure on lawmakers to reverse course and send a clear unified signal to open the border, because no one wins in a trade war.
"You can have your economy going on all cylinders, but if your trading partners aren't as receptive, that's problematic," said Manitoba Chambers of Commerce president Chuck Davidson. It appears there could be a united front coming out of these meetings, from both sides of the table.
"They don't like them either, they think free trade is what everybody needs to do, they understand there's some political challenges on both sides of the border," said Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce CEO Steve McLellan.
With concerns this could drag on for months because of the broken down talks over NAFTA, all here are urging leaders in both countries to get back to the negotiating table.
"Put this to rest, we don't have a timeline, but certainly, the longer this lingers on the more uncertainty it provides to our business community," said Greater North Dakota Chamber president Arik Spencer.
The Manitoba Chamber estimates Manitoba exported $500 million worth of products to North Dakota in 2017, with $900 million coming the other way.