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SU Professor: Free trade pact uncertainty causing concern for small businesses


This could be a crucial week in the ongoing debate over what will happen with the North American Free Trade agreement.

Talks to keep Canada in the trade bloc are to resume this coming week as Washington and Ottawa try to break a deadlock over issues such as Canada's dairy market and U.S. efforts to shield drug companies from generic competition. 

Professor Peter Koveos  is Finance Department Chair at Syracuse University and he teaches courses in international business.

He thinks overall, NAFTA has worked pretty well, and he says that the participation of Canada in this type of an agreement is important for a number of Upstate New York businesses.

“For us, in Upstate New York, because of the location, Canada is viewed by many of our small companies as a first destination when they’re thinking of exporting.”

Koveos says that  talk of possibly scrapping NAFTA, or eliminating Canada from a trade agreement probably worries a number of those regional businesses. 

“(It) makes a real big dent in their plans, creates a lot of havoc, because they don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow and that’s one thing that business hates more than anything else, is uncertainty.”

Koveos says if trade relations with Canada continue to worsen, it could also impact revenue generated in New York State by Canadian tourists. 

“For example, if the Canadian dollar depreciates, as a result of this trade war, then it will be more expensive for Canadians to come here and show up at our malls and buy from our companies,” Koveos said.

President DonaldTrump notified Congress on Friday that he plans to sign an agreement in 90 days with Mexico to replace NAFTA and hopes Canada can brought on board as well.

But Trump warned on Saturday that  if a fair deal cannot be worked out for the U.S., Canada will be left out of the agreement.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.