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Wednesday, 08 June 2011 14:56

Wall sees the importance of a trade corridor

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By John R. Statton — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Saskatchewan's top provincial politician knows the importance of free-flowing trade to the economy.



The U.S. remains an important trading partner with Saskatchewan, with the majority of the province’s exports travelling south of the border.

“Our numbers are about 60 per cent — the most recent numbers that the province has from a trade perspective — still a huge number,” said Premier Brad Wall while at the grand re-opening of the Great Plains College in Swift Current May 24.

“Anything over half is significant, but we’re actually the second-least dependent on the Americans for our exports of all the provinces. B.C. is the least, and we’re second least principally because of our trade with Asia in pulses, agriculture, and potash, but the American market is still the most important market, there’s no question.”

The premier had not yet seen the trade corridor business case facilitated by John Parker and Community Futures Southwest, but lent his support to increased port access.

“I think we’d like to see certainly more port access; there’s always the argument in the province of east versus west in terms of where there should be additional resources for access and for border crossings — at the very least, we need to be exploring improvement of access to determination of exactly where it can maybe be done later, but it would be nice to see a resolve on part of both national governments (Canada and the U.S.) for more access,” said Wall.

With only six months remaining in his first term as Premier, Wall blamed the previous government for the state of Saskatchewan’s highways.

“There is a huge infrastructure deficit we’ve inherited, the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) did a study before the last election and determined that we’ve inherited about a billion dollar infrastructure deficit in highways alone from the previous government,” he said.

“How we’ve dealt with that? Well we’ve been trying to do it year-by-year knowing that there’s always more potholes than pavement it seems, but we’ve increased the highways budget, for example by 55 per cent in our first four years versus the last four years of the previous administration.”

Wall noted partnership with the federal government on municipal infrastructure initiatives as another example of tackling the deficit.

“I think were making progress, but that’s not to say there’s not more work to be done, because there is. We have an infrastructure issue, and you can’t deal with a billion dollar deficit on highways alone overnight, but I think we’re slowly making progress; we’re catching up,” he said.

Wall recognized the City of Swift Current’s resolution to support a 24-hour port on Highway 4.

“As a citizen of Swift Current — never mind my other job — obviously we’d like that west side access improved,” said Wall. “From an industry standpoint, it’s even more important.”


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