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Apr 4, 2017

Scotiabank CEO Brian Porter says bank ‘firmly supports’ free trade, but NAFTA could be updated

Scotiabank CEO Brian Porter

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Scotiabank CEO Brian Porter stressed the importance of free trade in the bank’s annual general meeting Tuesday morning.  

“As Canada’s International Bank, we have always been strong proponents of the free movement of goods and services,” Porter said in a speech to shareholders. “After all, Canadians benefit from a vast network of trade agreements that have helped to accelerate economic growth, create jobs, and boost living standards.”

“In fact, Canada punches above its weight because we have preferred access to some of the world’s largest markets,” he added.

Porter pointed out, without specifically mentioning the United States, that some political movements are challenging the principles of free trade and its economic benefits.

He said there must be “positive public dialogue” on the benefits of free trade during negotiations, specifically around the North American Free Trade Agreement, adding that political and business leaders must work together to address any fears citizens might have around the the threat of free trade to their livelihoods.  

Porter did note, however, that it would be a good time to update some provisions of NAFTA to better reflect today’s current digital landscape. 

He also urged shareholders to think long term. 

"Scotiabank’s 125 years of international operations have taught us not to become overly concerned with the headlines of the day. Instead, we choose to focus on the longer-term growth prospects of our major markets," Porter said.