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Bringing current events into the classroom

Dr Igor Paramonov uses NAFTA research throughout his lectures to demonstrate how SAIT relates its business curriculum to current events.

Dr Igor Paramonov uses NAFTA research throughout his lectures to demonstrate how SAIT relates its business curriculum to current events.

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has been constantly in the news these days as political leaders discuss and negotiate its future.

And no one has been more glued to the news reports than Dr. Igor Paramonov, a faculty member in SAIT's School of Business. Paramonov has spent a lifetime, it seems, following and researching NAFTA and its impact on the economies of Canada, the United States and Mexico.

Paramonov currently teaches international business and marketing in the School of Business. He has been at SAIT since 1998. Paramonov utilizes his NAFTA research throughout his lectures and demonstrates how SAIT relates its business curriculum to current events happening throughout the globe. This practical application benefits students in comprehending the real-world impacts of the material they are being taught.

Paramonov applies his vast array of knowledge and international expertise to the design and development of management, marketing and international business courses at SAIT. He has received multiple awards for teaching excellence, including the Mortar Board's Professor Award from the University of Montana's Pentralia Chapter.

"All Canadian businesses have much better access to the United States market compared to any situation where NAFTA was never implemented," says Paramonov. "And the U.S. market is the most lucrative and attractive market in the world."

Mutually beneficial

He says the most desirable outcome of the NAFTA negotiations is that leaders will find a way to keep NAFTA in place with an updated agreement.

"It should be beneficial for all three countries. NAFTA before negotiations, NAFTA during negotiations and NAFTA after negotiations always will have a cost, but this cost should not be prohibitive for one of the trading partners. It's a matter of very careful considerations but from a new, updated agreement," says Paramonov.

"The end of NAFTA would have negative consequences for all three countries," he adds.

Paramonov says the Canadian government wants to integrate more human rights and labour protection into a new version of NAFTA. And Canada remains in favour of being a part of NAFTA, supporting Mexico's inclusion in the agreement.

But there have been mixed messages from the United States coming from both President Trump and other major representatives who are part of the negotiating process.

"President Trump mentioned a few times that NAFTA is a terrible agreement. It does not contribute to jobs in the United States and it has to be basically dismantled," says Paramonov. "But now . . . he appears to be willing to renegotiate."

He says Mexico is in a difficult situation with both the Trump Administration and upcoming federal election in 2018. These two factors will complicate NAFTA negotiations as they move forward.

NAFTA in the classroom

In the past, Paramonov has also taught courses at the University of Calgary's Haskayne School of Business on business under NAFTA, international business and doing business with Russia. He was a visiting scholar at the University of Montana's School of Business Administration, conducting research on foreign direct investment and teaching classes on business administration.

Before coming to North America, Paramonov was an associate professor at the Kazan State Finance and Economics Institute in the Republic of Tatarstan, Russian Federation. He taught courses on social and economic policies, materials and supply management, and regional economics.

"Diversification is a very important strategy. I teach my students about different international business strategies and I always lead them to the conclusion that our dependence on the United States should be reduced, but the reality is that whatever we're trying to do, the United States will be always our number one trading partner," says Paramonov.

"We can reduce the portion of the United States in our export and import portfolio, but there are many factors that will still make the United States our greatest trading partner."

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are do not necessarily reflect those of SAIT or its schools, faculty and staff.

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