Northern New York Congresswoman Elise Stefanik was in Montreal Monday to talk with members of the Quebec and North Country Chambers of Commerce about NAFTA and cross-border trade.
New York’s 21st congressional district borders Quebec and Ontario. Republican Elise Stefanik attended a joint meeting of the Federation of Quebec Chambers of Commerce, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Vaudreuil-Soulanges and the Plattsburgh-North Country Chamber of Commerce as part of the groups’ leadership series.
University of Quebec at Montreal Professor of Political Science and Director of the Center for United States Studies Frederick Gagnon has studied U.S. elections and the impact of Quebec on states that share a border.
He posed a series of questions to the second-term Republican. He first asked Representative Stefanik if her constituents are worried about NAFTA negotiations. “In my district people delineate between U.S.- Canada trade and then trade more broadly. So I do think there is a recognition at the local level of the importance of our partnership which we can see today. We are friends. We are communities. Plattsburgh has marketed itself as the U.S. suburb of Montreal. And I think the business-to-business relationships are quite successful and a testament to the commitments on both sides of the border.”
Gagnon noted there is considerable concern among Canadians about NAFTA re-negotiations. “I would say that there is a growing concern in Canada and in Quebec that the negotiations might not be going well after all, that the U.S. might terminate NAFTA.”
Stefanik replied that she would not support termination of the trade pact. “I believe that the recent decisions to prolong the process is a step in the right direction because I think we have identified that this is a critical issue to our domestic economy and we need to get it right. I think that the first rule going into negotiations and as we continue the talks is do no harm. Keep what is working. But certainly modernize aspects that are frankly out of touch with the 21st century. So for example digital rules of the road, that’s an aspect of NAFTA that absolutely needs to be updated.”
Stefanik was asked how the U.S. tax reform package could affect cross-border relationships. “The border adjustment tax because so many members spoke out against it that was taken out of the proposal. Which I think is very beneficial to this audience. That would have had a detrimental impact on our trading partnership. The other issue that will have an impact is the U.S. lowering of the corporate tax rate, which is an aspect of the tax bill that I agree with. Again we need to focus on U.S. competitiveness in the global economy and we have one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world and that was one aspect of the tax bill, cutting the corporate tax rate. That’s going to improve U.S. competitiveness globally.”
Audio of the chamber meeting is courtesy of Mountain Lake PBS.