On September 21, 2018, the conference “Austria Connect North America” brought together over 150 executives of Austrian subsidiaries in the U.S. and Canada. The 11th edition of the annual business conference was organized by the Austrian Trade Commissions in North America and held in Toronto, Canada, for the first time in its history. The outset of the conference was solemnized with an opening speech of Austrian Ambassador to Canada Stefan Pehringer. The Embassy of Austria in the United States was represented by Economic Counselor Alexander Ehrlich-Adam.
The welcome evening reception on September 20 was followed by a one-day conference focusing on the new order of free trade in North America, a widely-discussed topic and the eponym of this year’s session, the North American Free Trade Agreement’s renegotiations (NAFTA), the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), the prospect of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), and how the different policies of the U.S. and Canada towards free trade will affect the North American markets.
Speakers addressed the most relevant trends in industry and business and highlighted sectors, like artificial intelligence (AI) and 3D printing, where Canada is ranked among the top technology leaders. In workshops, first-hand legal and fiscal information useful to subsidiaries in Canada was shared. In addition, representatives shed light on the topic of sustainability by thematically linking it to future projects of Google in urban design. The lineup of speakers featured Denis Desrosiers, renowned Canadian consultant in the automotive sector, who gave an overview of current economic developments in the U.S. and possible impacts on the automotive industry.
Following the conference, participants visited the Niagara Falls on the way to Palfinger Canada manufactory; the outing concluded with a wine tasting in the picturesque vineyards of Southbrook.