by Ray Hayes

Headlines have been swirling about the NAFTA renegotiation. There are constant talks about whether things are good or bad and small business owners are left in limbo. Canadian small business owners are particularly unsure what things mean for their businesses and sell of products or services in the US. In efforts to calm the many Canadians, Laura Dawson, director of the Wilson Center’s Canada Institute, has stated that the media is portraying renegotiations worse than what they actually are. “If you believed everything you read in the news, you’d run for the hills. It looks like Canada is being persecuted by the States, but the reality is different,” she said.

Dawson admits that talks have been tense and the final agreements will not go without pains. “Going into negotiations has cost Canadians in terms of tariff volatility and long-term investments,” said Dawson. Recent US and Mexican elections will cause uncertainty which could extend to 2019.  Dawson also admitted that US government contracts with Canadian firms may also face barriers in the near future.

Although the obstacles may be daunting, Dawson advises that business owners to be optimistic. “The new NAFTA will be good for small business, but the cost we’re paying now is uncertainty. The key to weathering the shift is to diversify, so that you can continue to have eligibility for U.S. contracts, so you can continue to bring your U.S. supplies in and have the people you need on the job,” said Dawson.

Comparing current NAFTA negotiations to a senior citizen, Dawson suggested business owners think of renegotiations as a way to advance both US and Canadian economies while also reflecting on the way the economy is now not 25 years ago.

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