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Address by Minister Fast at Press Conference at Embassy of Canada to the United States

No. 2011/36 - Washington, D.C., United States - October 17, 2011

Check Against Delivery

Having just returned from a week-long trade mission to China, a country that is now Canada’s second-largest trading partner, I am happy to now be here in Washington, the capital of Canada’s largest and most important trading partner, the United States of America.

Earlier this afternoon, I met with my counterpart, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk.

Since my recent appointment, we’ve established an open and candid dialogue, and it was a pleasure to have had the opportunity to build on that with our face-to-face meeting today here in Washington. I look forward to meeting him again soon at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, just a few weeks from now.

I am pleased to report Ambassador Kirk and I had a productive meeting earlier today. It’s clear we share the view that strengthening the Canada-U.S. friendship will bring greater prosperity to both of our countries.

It’s also clear we both appreciate that in these challenging economic times, governments must work together to address common challenges.

History clearly shows that challenges of global significance—like the economic challenges we now face—require globally coordinated and mutually supportive solutions. Deepening trade and investment ties is vitally important to restoring the health of the global economy.

In this context, it’s impossible to overstate the importance of the Canada-U.S. trade relationship, and the jobs and prosperity that relationship supports on both sides of our shared border.

It’s something I see in my own electoral district of Abbotsford, British Columbia, a community that has a very busy border crossing and that thrives on trade with the United States.

And it’s clear at the national level as well, where the United States and Canada are each other’s largest trading partners. In fact, since the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement came into force, trade between our countries has tripled.

Last year, our two-way trade in goods and services reached $650 billion, over $1.8 billion a day, or roughly $1.2 million in job-creating trade every minute!

When I say “job-creating” trade, I mean it. Over 4,500 Canadian-owned businesses in 17,000 U.S. locations now directly employ well over half a million Americans.

All told, the jobs of over 8 million Americans depend on trade with Canada, just as over 2 million Canadian jobs depend on trade with the United States.

Canada is the top destination for the exports of 36 U.S. states.

The economic importance of the U.S.-Canada relationship is clearly a two-way street.

But serious challenges in the global economy confront both of our countries.

The recovery remains extremely fragile. Canadians and Americans alike remain concerned about their jobs and their children’s future.

In the face of this concern, Canadians understand that trade is, fundamentally, a “kitchen-table” issue. Trade is the means by which jobs are protected and created, and hard-working people put food on the table. I know Americans understand this connection too.

While the Canada-U.S. partnership is indeed the world’s greatest free trade success story, it is one that can still be improved upon, to the benefit of citizens in both of our countries. 

History shows that deeper and stronger free trade ties are the key to the global economic recovery. And even deeper and stronger free trade ties between the United States and Canada are fundamental to improving the prosperity of Americans and Canadians alike.

Through the Beyond the Border initiatives—jointly announced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Barack Obama this past February—we’re working with our American friends to create more jobs, opportunities and economic growth by enhancing security, improving the flow of trade and traffic across our borders, removing unnecessary barriers to trade and reducing red tape.

Together with other efforts to deepen our trading relationship, these initiatives will help ensure that the President’s goal of doubling exports in five years is realized, and that jobs—good jobs for hard-working people—will be protected and created in the process.

In these uncertain global times, the top priority of both of our governments is to create jobs, increase prosperity, and preserve and strengthen the financial security of our citizens.

Our government is committed to standing up for Canadian interests by ensuring taxes are low and trade is open and free, because we know that low taxes and more trade is the best way to create and protect jobs, and grow our economy.

Deepened trade would be win-win for both countries. In these challenging times, there is simply no better U.S. job creator than trade with Canada, and vice versa.

Broadening and expanding access to the U.S. market is a key part of our government’s job-creating, pro-trade, low-tax plan.

Sustained engagement with our American friends will continue to help long-term prosperity and economic growth, to our countries’ mutual benefit.

It’s clear to me that Ambassador Kirk and I share this sentiment, as well as a commitment to sustained engagement.

I believe we are both committed to doing our part to ensure that the Canada-U.S. relationship, which is the envy of the world, gets even stronger as we go forward together in these challenging times.

Thank you.