On Monday, the day before North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations opened in Canada, our President and CEO Richard Perez traveled to Montreal to rally with leaders of 24 other North American metropolitan chambers of commerce in favor of NAFTA’s renewal. Following the meeting, the leaders signed a joint declaration urging their respective governments to come to an agreement to renew NAFTA.
The two-day rally focused on identifying the issues around the renewal of NAFTA and the very real risks businesses would face if the negotiations were to fail. NAFTA has helped to create and expand more than 14 million jobs in the United States, two million in Canada, and three million in Mexico. The economic ties between the three countries are a major contributor to each country’s financial success.
“I am honored to have been asked to participate in this meeting with my colleagues from 24 other metropolitan chambers of commerce, and I am proud to have spoken on behalf of San Antonio’s business community. During the meeting, I discussed issues affecting locally based industries and the benefits of NAFTA for the San Antonio community. I feel stronger than ever that Canada, Mexico, and the United States must work openly, honestly, and diligently to modernize NAFTA,” said Chamber President and CEO Richard Perez.
Leaders of the following chambers and boards of trade also attended the meeting: Albany, Boston, Brampton, Calgary, Chihuahua, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Edmonton, Halifax, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Mérida, Mexico City, Minneapolis, Monterrey, Montreal, Querétaro, San Antonio, St. Louis, Tijuana, Toronto, Vancouver, Veracruz, Winnipeg.
Metro 8 Letter to US Trade Representative
In addition to attending the Montreal conference, Richard and leaders from the Metro 8 sent a letter to US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer urging him to preserve NAFTA with the appropriate revisions that modernize the agreement. Copies of the letter were also sent to Texas’ U.S. Senators and Representatives, along with key leaders of the Administration and the State of Texas. A copy of the letter can be found here.
The Metro 8 is a group which represents the eight largest metropolitan areas in Texas, including: Arlington, Austin, Corpus Christi, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth, Houston, and San Antonio. These Metro 8 Chambers collectively make up for than 20,000 Texas companies, 19.4 million residents, and $1.2 trillion in GDP in 2015.
The letter explains that no state benefits more from the NAFTA relationship than Texas, and no state has contributed more to the overall positive economic condition of the U.S. than Texas. If the U.S. were to withdraw from NAFTA, almost one million Texas jobs would be at stake, affecting our low national unemployment rate.
“NAFTA is a huge deal for Texas, and my colleagues from across the state and I wanted to make sure the voices of Texas’ businesses were heard as the sixth round of negotiations kicks off in Montreal,” Richard added. “It is our hope that Ambassador Lighthizer and other leaders in Washington will take our concerns to heart and work earnestly to negotiate an agreement that will further strengthen the U.S. economy.”
During 2017, the San Antonio Chamber took a leadership role in discussions on modernizing NAFTA. Next week, your Chamber, along with several community and business partners, will lead a delegation of more than 150 leaders to Washington, D.C., to advocate on a number of issues that affect our community, and a strong NAFTA is at the top of that agenda.