CFGI Quoted – “Canadian, U.S. Employers Hope Renewed NAFTA Helps Workers Cross Borders”


“As North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) renegotiation talks begin, employers are calling for better rules governing how professionals and business travelers cross the Canada-U.S. border.

“‘The NAFTA renegotiation presents an opportunity to improve the flow of skilled employees between the U.S. and Canada,’ said Lynn Shotwell, executive director of the Council for Global Immigration (CFGI), a Washington, D.C.-area advocacy organization supporting workforce mobility and employment-based immigration and a Society for Human Resource Management affiliate. ‘Timely, predictable and flexible labor mobility is critical to employers' ability to meet their business objectives.’

“…NAFTA's implementation of permissive temporary entry policies for workers and business travelers has already boosted economic growth and expanded the talent pool available to employers in the two countries, according to Stephen Cryne, president and CEO of the Canadian Employee Relocation Council (CERC), a Toronto-based organization representing the workforce mobility interests of Canada's largest employers. 

“‘The overall impact of the rules of temporary entry have delivered tremendous benefits to the businesses and economies in both countries,’ he said. ‘While much emphasis is placed on the movement of physical goods, which account for the majority of trade, there is significant growth in the trade in services between Canada and the U.S., which relies on the free movement of business executives and professionals. Virtually all sectors of the economy have benefited, particularly those with operations on both sides of the border.’

“However, the trade agreement's cross-border labor mobility provisions are far from ideal. ‘The movement of employees between Canada and the United States is fraught with delay, confusion [and] inconsistent decision‐making and is confined by an outdated NAFTA professionals list that does not reflect the modern skills needed by employers in both countries,’ Cryne said.

“CFGI and CERC recently polled 87 organizations from several industry sectors with employees who frequently travel or are transferred between the U.S. and Canada.

“…Over half of the employers surveyed (56 percent) felt that the current NAFTA professional occupations list, intended to facilitate the movement of skilled workers, is outdated.

“…Many in the business community fear that not only could expanding the list of eligible professions be out of reach, but also that preserving the existing labor mobility provisions could be endangered under President Donald Trump's protectionist administration. Perhaps tellingly, there was no mention of labor mobility when the U.S. released its objectives for NAFTA negotiations in July. Nor was it identified as an area that the U.S. wants to maintain. ‘While we know it's a high priority for Canada and Mexico, the U.S. position [on labor mobility] is opaque at this point in time,’ Cryne said.”

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