‘Just give us the rules’: Canadian businesses anxiously await NAFTA outcome

Innovation and forward thinking are points of pride for Cavalier Tool & Manufacturing Ltd.

For more than 40 years, the Windsor, Ont., company has been at the forefront of plastic mould production, selling their products to a wide range of industries, including the auto sector.

But planning ahead is becoming more of a challenge, because of the uncertainty around the future of NAFTA.

“Just give us the rules,” says sales manager Tim Galbraith.

“We survived an even dollar; we survived a recession in 2008. What we have trouble surviving is uncertainty.”

Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland is in Washington this week for another round of high level NAFTA discussions.

Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland is in Washington this week for another round of high level NAFTA discussions. (John Woods/Canadian Press)

Sources have told CBC News that Canada, the United States and Mexico are aiming to sign an agreement in principle that focuses on the auto sector before the end of this month.

During a conference call with reporters on Saturday, Freeland said she and her counterparts have been discussing specific proposals with industry stakeholders in their respective countries.

While Freeland’s meetings begin today, it is unclear how long she will remain in the U.S. capital for talks. Freeland told reporters she has not yet decided when she will return to Canada.

Galbraith has nothing but support for Canada’s negotiating team, but is eager to see a resolution.

“Our industry, like any manufacturing industry, is heavily into capital expenditures, and it is tough going forward with those not knowing what is coming around the bend,” Galbraith said.

“We are going forward and planning with a probability of expectations that there is going to be a solution to NAFTA, so that’s our plan right now.”

A topic of daily discussion

If NAFTA can’t be salvaged, Galbraith says he believes his industry will have to revert back to World Trade Organization rules, which would mean additional costs for Cavalier and many of its clients.

For more than 40 years, the Windsor Ontario company Cavalier Tool and Machinery has been at the forefront of plastic mould production. (CBC)

The company currently employs more than 140 people and ships its products internationally.

Galbraith says NAFTA is a topic of daily conversation around his office, adding his co-workers are always looking for any news reports they can find about the negotiations.

While Galbraith is optimistic the deal can be modernized in a way that will not hurt Canada’s manufacturing industry, managers are planning for the worst case scenario.

“Job losses … have we thought about it? Yes. Have we got a contingency plan? Yes. But that’s not part of our everyday planning right now. We’re planning for the glass half full.”


Leave a Reply