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Editorial: Binational agreements on the Niagara Frontier offer some protection as Trump’s plans for NAFTA resist focus

A new reciprocal agreement between the Buffalo Niagara Partnership and two Canadian chambers of commerce should ease any local tensions surrounding the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Even a little bit and every bit counts.

President Trump has made clear his displeasure with the pact enacted in 1994. He has threatened to tear up what he believes has amounted to the loss of millions in manufacturing jobs. Canadian and Mexican trading partners vehemently disagree and have been working feverishly to keep it in place.

Despite years of critical rhetoric, Trump recently and unexpectedly backed away from abandoning the agreement. Nevertheless, uncertainty overshadows an arrangement that has benefited Western New York for more than two decades.

The dissolution of the NAFTA deal would adversely affect the United States and, in particular, border cities such as Buffalo. But rather than guessing which direction the trade winds are blowing, the partnership has done a good job in setting in place some certainty for local businesses and Canadian interests.

That the new reciprocal agreement was in place long before Trump was a presidential candidate speaks volumes for the leadership here and just across the border.

The partnership announced recently that it had struck the new strategic agreement with the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce. The plan is to extend local members’ reach into Canada.

The idea is to give businesses reciprocal associate memberships in the three organizations as well as access to cross-border events into business networking opportunities. Businesses that will see a high degree of return on this reciprocal agreement include a dozen manufacturing, professional service, logistics and trade industries. All are well-represented here.

Partnership President and CEO Dottie Gallagher-Cohen explained the goal: “creating accidental collisions.” That creates opportunities and avoids the need for an intermediary between U.S.-Canadian counterparts.

Close communication already exists with a number of Canadian companies attending partnership events in the Buffalo Niagara region. This agreement takes it to another level and encourages communication – and business – to flow back and forth.

As uncertainty surrounding the fate of NAFTA continues, it is reassuring to know that this area’s local business group and Canadian chambers have devised their own agreement to benefit both regions.

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