U.S. tour brings NAFTA home for Islander

Kal Whitnell learned that connections to Prince Edward Island run deep across North America.

Creating jobs for Islanders -

Kal Whitnell will remember 2017 as the summer he spent nearly a month touring five U.S. cities with trade experts from around the globe.

The tour was in the lead-up to the historic North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) renegotiations. Beginning in Washington, D.C. and traveling to Burlington (Vermont), Dallas and Fort Worth (Texas), and Sacramento and San Francisco (California), Whitnell met with the U.S. Congress’ chief trade counsel and got to take the pulse of the U.S. relationship leading into the renegotiations.

“It was an opportunity for networking, building partnerships, and gaining a better understanding of the views of U.S. businesses and government,” said Whitnell, who works as the province’s senior director of economic research and trade negotiation.

He was awarded the opportunity through the U.S. Consul General and the U.S. Embassy after he was chosen for the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP). It is the U.S. Department of State’s premier professional exchange program and is fully funded by the department.

Whitnell said it’s in Prince Edward Island’s best interest to improve our relationship with the U.S. for prosperity and economic growth. He was encouraged by the number of people and companies he came across that had an affiliation with the Island – either through business dealings, vacations, or family connections.

It may be small, but Prince Edward Island’s impact and international reputation make it mighty.

“It showed that PEI is well known outside of Canada’s borders,” he said.

Whitnell said he was pleased to learn so much and get a better understanding on the eve of NAFTA renegotiations.

“Timing is everything,” he said. ”It was an honour to be nominated for this unique opportunity to network with some of the U.S. leaders in trade in the world.”


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