In the midst of trade tariffs and countermeasures, business leaders from Saskatchewan travelled down to the states to get a sense of how their U.S. counterparts are feeling.
The meeting took place this past week in North Dakota. Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce (SCC) CEO Steve McLellan said they met with many different business chambers to talk about tariffs and their local economies.
“We had a real good snapshot of North Dakota’s business,” McLellan told 980 CJME’s Gormley.
Saskatchewan exports over $500 million to the Republican state. North Dakota does have a trade surplus with the province.
McLellan said they were much more pro-Trump than Saskatchewan businesses thought they would be.
“Issues around tariff and even NAFTA are not a big deal, we pay a lot more attention to them here than they do, although they’re concerned about them, it’s not as front and centre as it is here,” McLellan said. “It really hasn’t hit them home yet.”
McLellan expects the tariffs to have an effect on the cross-border trade relationship.
“When that degree of instability happens, people are going to start to quote projects based on existing day-of-quote tariffs and duties,” McLellan said.
An example McLellan referenced was a man in Bismark, N.D., who was building a $400,000 home and his price of lumber went up by $7,000 between the first bid and building.
“It’s absolutely going to make a difference and that kind of money, if they don’t have a qualifier in terms of the tender, they’re going to have to either cancel projects or get burned big time,” McLellan said.
He said business leaders in North Dakota believe what President Donald Trump is doing is nothing more than a negotiating tactic.
“They believe that in the next months or within the next year this deal will be done.”
McLellan said Canada is a good trade partner for the states, bringing tourist dollars in when the Canadian dollar is low compared to the U.S. dollar.
McLellan said hotels in a few of the U.S. oil towns are feeling the effects because they aren’t filling up with tourists or oil workers.
“That’s where the exchange really hits them.”
He added that oil production is doing well in the states with technology and the number of workers changing. He said they’ve adapted well to the changes in the oil industry.