NAFTA renegotiations need to take place in a spirit of continuity
MONTRÉAL, Aug. 22, 2017 /CNW Telbec/ - mmode, the Metropolitan Fashion Cluster, today organized a high-calibre event bringing together renowned panellists from the fashion industry as well as the business and political communities to discuss the issues and opportunities surrounding the process of renegotiating NAFTA.
The industry, which favours maintaining the major rules currently in force under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), took advantage of this unique platform to underscore the importance of preserving strong trade relations with the United States. Lively discussions by the panellists, who included Raymond Bachand, Quebec's Chief Negotiator for NAFTA and Strategic Advisor, Norton Rose Fulbright; Danielle Charest, Vice-President and Senior Partner, Maison Marie Saint Pierre; Elliot Lifson, Vice-Chairman, Peerless Clothing; and Jean-François Sigouin, Vice-President, Sales and Marketing, SHAN, as well as John Parisella, Special Advisor, Business Outreach, NATIONAL, and moderator of the panel, clearly demonstrated their passion and commitment to the Québec fashion industry.
With more than 70% of exports going to the United States, our neighbour to the south is Québec's biggest trading partner. According to the Canadian Apparel Federation, the United States is also benefiting from this important trade partnership between our two countries. In fact, the trade balance between our two countries favours the United States, which recorded a surplus of US $1.3 billion in 2016. Canada is the biggest customer of 35 US states.
"As part of the NAFTA renegotiation process, the government must, among other things, ensure maintenance of the Tariff Preference Level (TPL)," says Elliot Lifson, Vice-Chairman of Peerless Clothing and President of the Canadian Apparel Federation. "This rules of origin mechanism is a priority for our industry. It enables us to export to the United States finished products that are manufactured locally from inputs coming from anywhere in the world, within a specified quantity. TPL is therefore essential to maintaining the competitiveness and the growth of our industry."
The industry also wants to maintain certain existing measures related to cross-border trade, such as the tax exemption threshold, which offer beneficial opportunities for Québec's traditional and digital retail industry.
"Montréal ranks third in North America for clothing manufacturing, after Los Angeles and New York," notes François Roberge, CEO of la Vie en Rose and Chair of mmode. "The fashion industry in Montréal has all it needs to succeed: a cultural and linguistic mix; a quality workforce; a dynamic education system; a strategic geographical position; and a thriving design and creativity community."
A strategic pillar of our economy, the fashion industry in Québec generates sales of $7 billion in manufactured goods and in wholesaler-distributor sales, with more than 1,850 players, including manufacturers, retailers, wholesalers, distributors and designers. Within this large and diversified pool, the number of world-class Québec companies is growing, and many are leaders in international markets.
"Export growth and the development of international markets are playing a critical role in the prosperity of our companies and the creation of jobs," says Debbie Zakaib, Executive Director of mmode. "We must be able to rely on trade rules that are conducive to the development of our sector. Over the last few decades, the Québec fashion industry has managed to stand out on the world stage thanks to its authenticity, inventiveness, commitment to innovation, and the expertise of its 90,000 qualified workers. Together, we intend to build on this momentum."
The mission of mmode, created in May 2015, is to bring together and mobilize players in Québec's fashion industry by acting as the ecosystem's main platform for exchange and collaboration. mmode also has a mandate to create business and innovation synergies to help improve the competitiveness and growth of this sector. mmode thanks its public partners: the Government of Québec and the Montréal Metropolitan Community (MMC).