Premier Dwight Ball played host to Wade MacLauchlan of Prince Edward Island and Brian Gallant of New Brunswick, while Nova Scotia’s Stephen McNeil participated via teleconference.
At the end of the meeting the premiers held a news conference at the inn, during which Ball said it was important for the provinces to strengthen trade relationships with the United States and reduce as many barriers as possible.
Equally important, he said, is to look for opportunities to expand trade among all the Atlantic provinces.
Here’s some of what was said:
How concerned are you about the current federal administration in the United States and how closely are you watching what’s happening in terms of how it may relate to your individual provinces?
“It’s an important issue for us because we realize how important this trade is. What we’ve heard coming out of the U.S. is that this is important, the relationship with Canada is important to them as well. If you are one of the states that your primary trade partner is Canada, well obviously you’d be concerned about that, too. So this is the reason we’re taking action.
“So take absolutely nothing for granted and realize now that it’s important for all of us to work together in making sure we get our message out there, how important these trade routes are to all of us. And just reminding people south of the border how important those trade routes are to their states as well.”
“We have been, over the past two months as premiers, working closely with our federal government with our prime minister in a co-ordinated effort to ensure that our relationships are good, that we’re pursuing every opportunity to confirm and to build on those relationships across the border.”
“We remain cautiously optimistic that our trading relationship is going to remain robust and hopefully even improve. And the reason for that is I think we’ve seen with the prime minister going to meet (U.S.) President (Donald) Trump, a positive meeting, one in which trade was certainly on top of the agenda. I think we also see many allies in other elected officials. We have spoken to many governors about the importance of trade between our two countries and they get it. They understand that Canada is not only a very integral part of the supply chain, but we’re also their largest customer.”
What areas are you looking at to open up trade opportunities within the Atlantic provinces?
“As an example, making sure that we have alignment. We talk about regulatory alignment quite a bit. Just making sure that we actually reduce the barriers that are in place. We see it within trades, as an example, with regulatory requirements that could vary from province to province. So just making sure that we enable the mobility of businesses to work inter-provincially just by reducing barriers and we see some opportunities within just a regulatory environment.”
“We’re, of course, pleased that Newfoundland and Labrador has joined in the initiative of Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia through the Office of Regulatory Alignment, which is doing quite direct and productive work on barriers or where there are differences that can be brought into line. At this meeting we’ve confirmed an initiative in the area of trade-related safety. Things as specific as requirements for safety boots, the certification or licensing of people who do elevator repair or who operate amusement rides. It’s an indication of other significant ways in which our four provinces are creating an environment where business and workers can be more mobile.”
“We recognize the importance of reducing trade barriers within our country. Obviously, Atlantic Canada is one of the smaller markets, so we understand that when there are trade barriers that are eliminated, that can be very positive for our economy. We have to make sure we do it in a very responsible manner, however. We also have to ensure that we continuously invest strategically in our infrastructure. Our infrastructure is an important piece for our businesses to be able to get their products and services to markets in an efficient and competitive fashion.”