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Submitted by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers

The Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) has always maintained a foothold in Ottawa where the Canadian federal government enacts laws and regulations impacting our industry.

But as the governments of Canada, the United States and Mexico renegotiate the terms of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), AEM is expanding its advocacy presence throughout Canada – on trade and a whole host of other issues.

“Our members strongly recognize the importance of the Canadian market to the overall health of our industry on issues ranging from trade to infrastructure to agriculture,” said Alex Russ, AEM director of international and regulatory affairs. “Our members have made a major commitment to our advocacy efforts in Canada, and AEM will work to deliver for our industry in Ottawa.”

AEM is based in Milwaukee, Wis., and maintains full-time offices in the world capitals of Washington, D.C. and Beijing, China.

Canada has always stood apart as one of the most important parts of the industry in both the construction and agricultural sectors that AEM represents. The equipment manufacturing industry supports about 149,000 jobs in Canada as of 2016, and contributed about $15 billion USD to the gross domestic product of Canada that year.

Those economic contributions are fueled both by manufacturers based in Canada as well as cross-border service and supply chains that were facilitated in part by NAFTA over the last quarter century.

Canada is also the largest export market for U.S.-based manufacturers of agricultural and construction equipment and vice-versa. U.S. equipment manufacturers export roughly $11 billion to Canada. Likewise, the U.S. and Mexico are essential export markets for Canadian equipment manufacturers and suppliers.

AEM is also deeply engaged in promoting a strong infrastructure system and agricultural economy in Canada, both of which are important priorities for the health of the equipment manufacturing industry in North America.

To help drive the association’s expanded Canadian advocacy, AEM empaneled a special working group chaired by Linamar-Skyjack Inc. group president, Brad Boehler, and consists of representatives from 18 different AEM member companies conducting business in Canada.

“I am thrilled to see AEM take a more active role in advocating on behalf of our industry in Canada,” Boehler said in a late 2017 statement touting the efforts. “Given AEM’s extensive policy expertise and connectivity with senior decision-makers in both industry and government, the association is uniquely positioned to help companies of all sizes overcome legislative and regulatory issues impacting their economic growth.”

Already, AEM has notched some visible successes. The association is now a member of the Canadian-American Business Council (CABC) and helped to sponsor its “State of the Relationship” reception in Ottawa last year, where AEM staff visited with U.S. Ambassador to Canada Kelly Craft. AEM also hosted a dinner for its Board of Directors and other industry executives at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C. last year.

Looking forward, AEM has an aggressive game plan for 2018, beginning with the recent round of NAFTA negotiations in Montreal in January.

Russ, AEM’s international policy director, joined other equipment manufacturing leaders to attend talks and urge the best possible outcome for the industry. AEM has suggested several ways to improve NAFTA, ranging from changes to rules of origin, improving customs facilitation and adding a new chapter that will govern digital trade. The association has also been very active educating lawmakers about the economic consequences that would occur to the equipment manufacturing industry should the U.S. withdraw from NAFTA.

During the sixth round of NAFTA negotiations, AEM met with negotiators from all three countries to highlight the importance of NAFTA for the equipment manufacturing industry. The round marked a positive change in dialogue as Canada and Mexico brought forward ideas on previous U.S. proposals. Additionally, the constant threat of a U.S. NAFTA pullout has temporarily subsided as two additional rounds have been scheduled for the end of March.

“AEM continues to stress the importance of negotiators taking their time to obtain a comprehensive update to NAFTA. Correctly modernizing NAFTA is vastly more important than political expediency,” said Russ.

AEM’s advocacy in Canada doesn’t end there. In the first quarter of 2018, AEM is working with the Canadian Wireless and Telecommunications Association (CWTA) on a 5G conference that was held this February in Ottawa. Expanding rural broadband and 5G access across Canada will improve agricultural production and construction and mine site efficiency. In late February, AEM teamed up with the Associated Equipment Distributors (AED) to hold a public policy briefing in Ottawa. Topics included transportation regulations, workforce development and domestic energy policy. Furthermore, the briefing will allow many Canadian government officials to hear firsthand how public policy changes on the federal level will impact the industry.

AEM will also be facilitating factory visits across Canada for elected officials to connect with their constituents and learn about how our industry drives local economic growth.

“It will be a big year for equipment manufacturers in Canada,” said Russ, “and we hope to build upon that success in the years ahead.” 

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Piling Canada is the premier national voice for the Canadian deep foundation construction industry. Each issue is dedicated to providing readers with current and informative editorial, including project updates, company profiles, technological advancements, safety news, environmental information, HR advice, pertinent legal issues and more.