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Local business leaders are worried the ripple effects of US tariffs may mean layoffs in their workforces.

Conservative House Leader and Portage-Lisgar MP Candice Bergen was in Winkler this week to hear local business leaders' concerns and discuss the impact of potential US tariffs and ongoing NAFTA negotiations.

"Families are concerned about how they will put food on the table," Bergen explains, noting the steel, aluminum and manufacturing sectors are worried about layoffs, and the impact tariffs will have on their ability to do business in the future.

"Yes, there is some frustration with Trump's approach, but something I heard across the country was that people expected our Prime Minister would better utilize the great relationship we have overall with our American allies and neighbours to the south, and this just has not happened," she says.

The US and Mexico have made a preliminary NAFTA deal, though Canada has yet to enter the agreement. "Canada is on the outside looking in, and frankly I don't we've ever been in such a weak position. It's very concerning."

Canada must continue to be competitive when dealing with the US, Bergen says, which includes lowering taxes and opening markets for oil and gas.

Bergen says cross-border trade is important to the Pembina Valley both to the US and between Provinces, and in the end business owners simply want fewer barriers, "I got a very strong message on that, "get rid of these inter-provincial trade barriers, make the playing field level.'"

The meeting was part of the Conservative Defend Local Jobs Tour.

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