Oh, Canada! Chamber hosts Acting Consul General of Canada for policy discussion

San Antonio’s economy relies heavily on trade, and Canada is one of our leading trading partners. Because of this vital relationship, the Chamber was proud to host a dynamic discussion with the Acting Consul General of Canada Douglas George and Canadian Trade Commissioner Ethan Benso.

Douglas George is the Acting General Consul for our region, which includes Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Arkansas. He handles business negotiations, trade policy, and international relations between our region and Canada. Consul General George is an expert in international policy and has 37 years of international diplomatic experience. Ethan Benso is an American citizen hired by the Canadian government to promote trade and investment between our region of the U.S. and Canada, particularly in automotive and aerospace industries, and with an increasing focus on cybersecurity.

Your Chamber’s Vice President for Economic Development Belinda Garza Hartwig led with a briefing on the San Antonio aerospace industry. Highlighting recent findings from the latest aerospace impact study, Belinda shared that the average wage in the industry is $78,850, and the total impact of the industry is $3.4 billion. Belinda and the Consul General further discussed Canada’s city of Montreal as a North American hub for aerospace and brainstormed how the two cities can collaborate in the future to improve the aerospace industry for both nations.

During the discussion, your Chamber’s Vice President of Cybersecurity Amanda Keammerer provided an overview of the cybersecurity landscape in San Antonio and explained how San Antonio is the ideal landing spot for Canadian startups and businesses seeking to establish a presence in the United States.  Amanda emphasized how the Chamber works with a nexus of federal, state, industry, and small business partners to strengthen the cybersecurity ecosystem, including building a robust talent pipeline to meet the growing demand of regional employers. George engaged in the discussion mentioning how important cybersecurity is to the U.S. and Canada, describing how we have all come to understand that what is bad for the United States is also bad for Canada. George explained how our military, defense, and economic relations have been close for more than 60 years with the creation of NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command), and how it is essential for both nations to keep collaborating and improving upon our relationship.

George continued to stress the importance of a healthy relationship between Canada and the U.S. by mentioning how the North American Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has “tripled trade rates and caused a boom in jobs for all parties involved. However, it is out of date.” Therefore, NAFTA was in dire need of updates; for example, there is no mention of digital commerce in NAFTA.  Belinda responded by stating that our relationship with Canada is a top priority, and your Chamber continues to advocate for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement, also known as NAFTA 2.0. City of San Antonio Amy Contreras also participated in the discussion and provided context for the next stop on our visitors’ agenda: Port San Antonio.

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