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NAFTA on your mind? Don’t worry, CFIB is on it!

Canada is a trading nation. Every year, billions of dollars of goods and services flow through our border, and many jobs depend upon the vitality of our trade relationships. Since our biggest trade partnership is with the U.S., changes to NAFTA will have a major impact on how we do business. Any uncertainty makes it hard for Canadian small businesses to plan for the future.

With so much confusion in the media, it’s hard to separate fact from fiction. Here’s what Canadian small business owners need to know:


The new U.S. administration has indicated that it may implement protectionistpolicies that will influence aspects of this free trade deal. Since the U.S isCanada’s largest trading partner, you might wonder what this means for yourbusiness. While many rumours are circulating in the press, the U.S. has not yet taken concrete formal action to alter NAFTA.*


In late Spring, the United States formally notified Congress of its intention to initiate negotiations related to NAFTA with Canada and Mexico.  On July 17, 2017, the U.S released a comprehensive list of objectives for a NAFTA renegotiation. Although there are no real surprises, the document lists a wide range of areas up for negotiation, including dispute resolution, competition policy, labour and the environment. We anticipate formal negotiations to begin mid-August.

The Canadian government carried out formal consultations with the public. More information can be found here. All interested parties were encouraged to submit their views by July 18, 2017. The consultation period is now closed as the Canadian government is gearing up for the start of negotiations. CFIB has participated in the consultation and we will post our submission to this page shortly.


We have been meeting with MPs, Ministers, and bureaucrats throughout the federal and provincial governments to discuss the SME perspective on this important issue. As developments occur, CFIB will continue to serve as the voice of Canada’s small businesses on this critical issue.  

In addition, on July 12th, we hosted a webinar for our members with General Andrew Leslie, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs with special responsibilities for Canada/U.S relations. The General provided an overview of the issue and took business owners’ questions.
Don’t worry if you missed the webinar! Check out the recording here.


The federal government has demonstrated a strong stance against protectionist policies that would have a negative impact on Canadian business. The government is continuing to blitz the U.S. administration and meeting with influencers at both the state and national level. Provincial premiers have also taken up the cause on behalf of Canadian businesses.

*Although outside the scope of NAFTA, the U.S administration has placed new duties ranging from three to 24% on Canadian lumber imports. The federal government immediately released a statement disagreeing strongly “with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s decision to impose an unfair and punitive duty” on Canadian softwood lumber products. On June 1, the federal government announced $867 million in measures to support forest industry workers and communities affected by U.S. measures targeting softwood lumber. This was later followed with preliminary anti-dumping duties on Canadian softwood lumber on June 23, 2017. See government Backgrounder on Softwood Lumber Action Plan for more information.


We ave worked closely with International Affairs, Global Affairs Canada, and the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service to develop a new CFIB member survey and report that captures your views on NAFTA. Check back shortly to read our new report. 

We want to hear from you!

We are working hard to ensure that we represent your views on trade with our southern neighbours. Thank you for your participation in a recent CFIB survey on international trade. We still want to hear from you. Tell us us about your experience trading with the U.S. and/or Mexico, so we can share your concerns with our national leaders.

As always, CFIB business counsellors are available to answer questions and learn how changes in the Canada/U.S. trade relationship impact your business.  

Contact us 1-888-234-2232 or with your questions and concerns.