Saskatchewan’s agriculture minister Lyle Stewart was appointed president of the Pacific Northwest Economic Region (PNWER), Wednesday morning and he made it clear that building good “personal relationships” amongst premiers and governors is important for U.S.-Canada trade relations.
“We’ve all seen situations where contentious issues have been resolved or mitigated by a good personal relationship between premiers and governors,” said Stewart. “I think we need to encourage that and this can be a forum for that to happen more than has in the past.”
Stewart also said he’ll be pushing to have agriculture at the forefront of PNWER’s U.S.-Canada agenda.
“We need to do some things that will promote Saskatchewan in the region and certainly I’d like to do some things around giving agriculture a higher profile,” said Stewart. “It’s a very important industry to the region—so I suspect I’ll have a lot of cooperation throughout the region in doing that.”
Stewart noted there have been some “irritants” in terms of agricultural trade between the two partners adding he feels it should be easy to get those issues to the forefront.
“We need to give the agricultural portion of the program a little more profile,” he said. “Ag has taken a higher-profile in this summit than it ever has before and I think it’s being viewed as pretty successful and I don’t think it will be a hard fight to keep the profile where it is and even increase it.”
He continued, “I don’t expect it to be a battle.”
Feds say Stewart’s presidency is a positive
Federal Minister of Agriculture and Agri-food, Gerry Ritz said he feels having a Saskatchewan agriculture minister as the president of PNWER will be positive for agricultural trade relations between the two countries.
“Lyle made the point that we wants to see more agriculture discussed at the PNWER symposiums—I think that’s great,” said Ritz. “He outlined some of the numbers and they’re staggering numbers that we do in trade …. so I think getting an agricultural bend to some of what PNWER does is certainly good.”
He also noted the meeting itself is an important one saying, “anything that builds bridges and speaks to the synergies between our two countries—whether it’s raw material going down and being processed and being exported out—it’s good for Canada.”
The PNWER’s annual summit wraps up Thursday.