Talk of a trade war, between the U.S. and Canada, is raising concerns among government and business leaders on both sides of the border and organized labor. According to a new study released by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, more than 470,000 American jobs are at risk.
Opponents of the tariffs on steel and aluminum, imposed by President Trump, met with reporters in Black Rock Canal Park, which overlooks Fort Erie, on Wednesday. Given the local economy's boost from cross border trade, Buffalo Niagara Partnership President and CEO, Dottie Gallagher-Cohen said, the business group has spent quite some time trying to make the Niagara River just a river and not a border. Gallagher-Cohen says, Canadians spend over $1 billion, in Western New York, annually, just on recreation and tourism.
"We also know at the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, 40% of our members have customers or supply chain relationships in Canada. So, this is a relationship we treasure and one we want to grow," Gallagher-Cohen said.
United Steelworkers Staff Representative, David Wasiura points out, that raw steel from Hamilton, Ontario, is shipped to Buffalo area plants where it's processed and then shipped back to Canada for final assembly into cars and other products that get sold in the U.S. Wasiura says Steelworkers, in both countries, have strategic relationships.
"United Steelworkers is a truly international union where we don't only represent members here, in the United States, but a lot of our members work in Canada, including Hamilton, where steel is truly the heartbeat of the economy up there. So, from the Steelworkers point of view, we really have an integrated workforce and membership that this will effect on both sides of the border," Wasiura said.
Hamilton Chamber of Commerce President and CEO, Keanin Loomis says, while there are issues that flare up from time to time, in reality, no two countries in history have been more aligned, on big issues, than the U.S. and Canada.
"And that is especially true after the signing of NAFTA, in 1993. Since then, our economies have become deeply integrated and the trade between our two countries is entirely fair and remarkably balanced. So, when it come to trade, Canada is not the problem," Loomis said.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz says, the tariffs are creating problems where none existed, fray economic bonds that bring us together, and make us weaker overall. And Poloncarz says, no one wins in a trade war.