Cross-border plastics summit highlights U.S./Canada trade issues
A large contingent of representatives from U.S. and Canadian companies, trade organizations and state, municipal and provincial governments gathered at Niagara-on-the-Lake in April to listen and ask q...
A large contingent of representatives from U.S. and Canadian companies, trade organizations and state, municipal and provincial governments gathered at Niagara-on-the-Lake in April to listen and ask questions in a forum covering a wide-range of export and trade issues related to the plastics industry. The event was organized by a committee of U.S. and Canadian institutions, of which CPIA Ontario played a leading part.
Setting the tone for the day, Shari Jackson, associate director, state government affairs, SPI Inc., noted that the Great Lakes region of the U.S. has about 6,000 plastics companies, employing 325,000 people, which generate about $60 billion in annual sales. Among all states and provinces, in terms of the number of plastics processors, machinery manufacturers, material suppliers and moldmaking facilities, Ohio ranks first, Ontario third, Pennsylvania sixth and New York eighth. Jackson called the event an important first step in addressing issues important to the continued growth of the North American plastics industry.
Leading off the presentations, Dr. Al Litvak spoke on “Competing in the Plastics Industry in the 21st Century; Globalization vs. Regionalization in the Great Lakes”. Calling plastics “an increasingly knowledge intensive industry,” Litvak noted that survival and profitability as a plastic company requires greater investments in technology, training and marketing. Litvak, now a visiting eminent scholar at the College of Business, Florida Atlantic University, as well as Pierre Lassonde Chair in International Business, Schulich School Business, York University, said NAFTA has helped lower the psychological, as well as commercial, barriers of trade between Canada and the U.S., as more companies are opening branches and entering into partnerships, licensing agreements and other arrangements with companies on the other side of the border. Litvak also stated that he believed regional trade agreements in the western hemisphere were likely to enlarge, and that cooperation between companies and countries on issues such as training and technology transfer will be an important factor in determining long-term success in the highly competitive plastics industry.
Other presentation topics included cross border regulatory issues, cross border research, development and training and cross border partnering. Table top displays and networking breaks provided plenty of opportunity for interaction between attendees. Canadian participants with table displays included Industrial Research Development Institute, Unique Mould Makers Ltd., Dynamic Moulds Inc. and Mitchell Plastics Ltd.