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May 04, 2018 10:01 PM

Canadian Official Talks Free Trade In Sioux Falls

Should there be free trade between Canada and the United States?

That has been a big question nationwide over the past year.

At one point President Trump even said he didn't think the U.S. could reach a deal to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.

"Canada is one of our major export areas," Rosenbauer America Compliance Officer Bill Palmer said.

Palmer works for Rosenbauer America, a fire truck manufacturer in Lyons, South Dakota. The company has sold around 1,000 vehicles in Canada.

"Without free trade we probably wouldn't even exist in Canada," Palmer said.

In South Dakota alone an average of 26,000 jobs per year are supported by trade and investment with Canada.

"Of course Canada is the largest foreign market for South Dakota exporters. 40 percent of your exports go to Canada every year," Paul Connors said.

Paul Connors is the Consul General of Canada. He spoke this week at the Sioux Falls International Trade Seminar.

"Since we did NAFTA in 1994, the GDP of our three countries has a little more than doubled. That's pretty good, but our trade with each other has tripled. Our trade in the agriculture sector has quadrupled," Connors said.

Connors is optimistic that Mexico, Canada and the US will agree on a new NAFTA deal soon--a deal that could be a deal-breaker for businesses like Rosenbauer.

"To keep our economy going we depend on Canada. The state of South Dakota does depend on Canada," Palmer said.

President Trump says a deal on NAFTA is getting pretty close. 

The countries are pushing to get something done before Mexico's presidential election in July.


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