ERLANGER – Canada sent its top trade policy expert to Northern Kentucky Monday to reinforce business ties with Kentucky’s biggest international trading partner.
More than 112,000 Kentucky jobs depend on direct investment from Canada, Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce spokesman Scott Sedmak said.
About 25,000 Canada-dependent jobs are in Northern Kentucky, Sedmak said. Kentucky exported $7.5 billion worth of products to Canada in 2016. Canada is Kentucky’s No. 1 export destination.
Canadian-owned companies including Cold Spring-based CCL Labels and Florence-based Eagle Manufacturing Co. sent representatives to hear trade expert Canada Consul General Thomas George speak at Receptions in Erlanger. While free trade and international relations were discussed at the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce event, President Donald Trump met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met in Washington, D.C., on Monday as well.
For Canada and Kentucky the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) works, George said.
Increasing protectionism will hurt existing Canada-U.S. competitive advantages built up over decades even before NAFTA was passed in 1994, he said.
“Resist protectionism,” George said.
Few realize the I-75/I-71 Brent Spence Bridge to Ohio is 261 miles from the international bridge into Canada from Detroit, he said.
“A lot of trucking companies that come through our area are coming from Canada,” Sedmak said.
Northern Kentucky’s prime location to Canada and the rest of the United States led French-owned Armor USA Inc. to move to Hebron in 1999, Armor’s vice president of operations Ryan Heitkamp said. Armor manufactures auto identification tags and labels.
“We wanted an area that could be our North America headquarters,” Heitkamp said.
About 10-15 percent of all of Armor’s business is with Canada, he said. A new Armor location in Canada will be opened soon to distribute niche products – and does not take any Northern Kentucky jobs away.
Canada’s connections with U.S. companies are part of automotive production lines and air cargo transportation, said Janet Harrah, senior director at Northern Kentucky University’s Center for Economic Development and Analysis.
“It’s all about cars and airplanes,” Harrah said.
About a third of all Kentucky exports each year go to Canada, she said.
Canada imports to Kentucky, too.
In January, Canada’s top breakfast spot Tim Hortons opened at 3163 Dixie Highway in Erlanger.
“It’s like if you rolled in McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks together,” Sedmak said. “That’s how important it is to Canada.”
Sedmak worked for Canada’s Parliament for a summer in 2001. The countries, except for how their political systems are organized, have much in common, Sedmak said.
Originally found through the Cincinnati Enquirer: http://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/local/boone-county/2017/02/13/canada-no-1-ky-world-trade/97847964/
GCWAC does not own this blog.