NAFTA changes a concern for Great Lakes industry

Dec 13, 2017

At the Novelis Aluminum plant, most of the primary aluminum that is processed comes from Canada.
Credit Payne Horning / Great Lakes Today

At the Novelis plant in New York, machines are preparing aluminum rolls for manufacturing.

The Oswego Co. plant processes the metal for companies like Ford, Toyota and General Motors. Novelis’ president of North American operations, Marco Palmieri, says most of its aluminum comes from Canada.

"Any change in the regulations there may cause a significant impact, not only to Novelis and Oswego, but also to the aluminum industry in the U.S," he says.

The Council of the Great Lakes Region says trade between the U.S. and Canada reached $635 billion dollars last year. That supports about two million jobs in the region.

Julia Fields of the Chamber of Marine Commerce, a binational group, says the region shows how the two countries’ economies have become integrated under NAFTA. 

"Over 37 million metric tons of those products are being transported by ship on the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region -- and that’s every year," she says. "So that’s something we should be wanting to build on and create new opportunities from.”

Palmieri and Fields say the NAFTA negotiations do present an opportunity to modernize the agreement -- as long as those changes don't limit the trade happening now.