Four key talking points for Canada in this week’s NAFTA negotiations
Talks between the US, Canada and Mexico on renegotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) are set to begin this week, where the three countries will come together to try and agree on a new look trilateral trading pact.
Talks are not expected to go particularly smoothly with US President Donald Trump having described the existing NAFTA terms as “the worst trade deal” that the US has ever approved.
However, although Canada may have to compromise, those present will also be looking to secure some key interests that could prove to be significant points of conflict or mutual benefit.
Few industries have supply chains as complex and broad as the auto industry, and with the sector having witnessed significant growth in Canada of late, PM Justin Trudeau and Co. will be looking to protect this during negotiations.
With the US increasingly looking to enhance its own domestic business, the President of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association, Flavio Volpe, stated his wariness that the success of its members is “increasingly dependent on our ability to reach US and Mexican customer bases,” and any implications to this could jeopardise what is currently a thriving Canadian industry.
Some 80% of the $355bn Canadian manufactured goods that were exported last year went to NAFTA countries, and so keeping this access open will be of paramount importance to the Canadian economy.
Canada at the very least will be looking to maintain the same degree of access, with the hopes of improving labour mobility and cutting administrative burdens.
Trump has already singled out Canada’s fixed prices, production quotas and tariffs that protect the Canadian dairy industry from foreign competition as a one sided agreement, and will be looking to eliminate these in line with US goals of broadening the country’s access to agricultural exports.
Meanwhile, Trudeau will be looking to maintain the current deal with all parties in a system that protects Canada’s dairy supply.
"We have signed significant trade deals with Europe, with North America, elsewhere, protecting our supply management system and we are going to continue to do that,” he said.
Energy and Oil
With Canada’s energy industry continuing to grow, the country now has the world’s third largest proven reserve and oil production has more than quadrupled since the first NAFTA talks.
With energy commodities acting as such a big part of Canadian exports, Canada is looking to make changes that ease the flow of energy across borders.
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.