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At N.H.-Canada Meeting, Concerns for NAFTA

Chris Jensen
From left: State Sen. Lou D'Allesandro; Mary-Estelle Ryckman, formerly of the Office of the United States Trade Representative; David Alward, Canadian Consul General to New England; Marie-Claude Francoeur of the Government of Quebec's office in Boston

Strengthening business ties between New Hampshire and Canada was the focus of a conference Friday in Whitefield. Officials also discussed their concerns over changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement being urged by President Trump.

Canada is one of the state’s leading business partners. The state’s exports totaled $560 million last year. And officials from New Hampshire and Canada agreed that changes to NAFTA must be carefully considered to avoid hurting businesses on both sides of the border.

Mary-Estelle Ryckman is a former top official with the Office of the United States Trade Representative. “If it goes away, the economic disruption in the United States will be significant,” she said.

But there was also agreement that NAFTA – signed in 1993 - needs updating to reflect changes like e-commerce.

David Alward, Canada’s Consul General to New England, said issues like gender equality and protecting the environment should also be more strongly addressed.

The conference was organized by the New Hampshire-Canada Trade Council and the New Hampshire Department of Business and Economic Affairs.