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Minister Fast Highlights Ways to Strengthen Canada-U.S. Advantage

Canada’s involvement in the Trans-Pacific Partnership would help create new jobs for Canadians and Americans alike, Minister tells U.S. political and business leaders

March 12, 2012 - The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, today wrapped up his visit to the United States, where he stressed the value in leveraging the Canada-United States competitive advantage in new trade negotiations, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). 

“Canada and the United States have the largest bilateral trading relationship in the world,” said Minister Fast. “As neighbours and friends, we can and should build the TPP together. As like-minded allies, we can ensure that high standards are included in the TPP on such issues as investment, regulatory cooperation, state-owned enterprises and labour provisions.”

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a free-trade agreement under negotiation by, at present, nine countries, including the United States. Since Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Canada’s formal interest in joining the TPP negotiations, in November 2011, Minister Fast has held meetings with his counterparts from all nine TPP countries (Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam).

In Washington, D.C., Minister Fast addressed an investor conference to promote Canada as an investment destination of choice, highlighting the country’s strong economic fundamentals, low taxes and business-friendly policies. He also held meetings with U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, Secretary of Commerce John Bryson, and other key U.S. officials and policy-makers. In New York City, he met with business and political leaders to underscore how free trade has created jobs and prosperity on both sides of the border.

“U.S. jobs and prosperity are best served by having Canada join the TPP negotiations at the earliest opportunity,” said Minister Fast. “Canada’s participation in the TPP is critical to preserving the jobs and prosperity that exist for U.S. workers, businesses and families thanks to our integrated economies and supply chains.”

Minister Fast said he was pleased that, in the U.S. Federal Register process concluded in January 2012, the response of U.S. stakeholders to Canada’s inclusion in the negotiations was overwhelmingly supportive.

“More than 91 percent of the submissions supported Canada’s membership in the TPP,” said the Minister. “This is a clear recognition by U.S. stakeholders that, as each other’s largest trading partner, and with our integrated economies that support millions of jobs on both sides of our shared border, Canada’s inclusion in the TPP is critical to ensuring the future prosperity of both our countries.”

Minister Fast also described other ways Canada and the United States are currently working together to grow the two countries’ highly integrated economies. In December 2011, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama announced the Action Plan on Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness and the Action Plan on Regulatory Cooperation, which are designed to speed up trade and travel, improve security in North America and align regulatory approaches.

These plans—the most significant step forward in Canada-United States cooperation since the North American Free Trade Agreement—will create jobs and growth in both countries.

Over 10 million jobs in both countries depend on Canada-United States trade—8 million in the U.S. and 2.4 million in Canada. Canada and the United States are each other’s largest export market. In fact, Canada is the number one foreign market for goods for 35 of the 50 U.S. states.

For more information, please visit Minister Fast Travels to Washington, D.C., and New York City.

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A backgrounder follows.

For further information, media representatives may contact:

Rudy Husny
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Ed Fast
Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

Trade Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada

Backgrounder - Canada-United States Trade and Investment

Canada and the United States enjoy the largest commercial relationship in the world, with trade in goods and services totalling $708 billion in 2011. Some $1.9-billion worth of goods and services crosses the Canada-United States border every day.

The bilateral commercial relationship is critical to the economic prosperity and standard of living of people in both countries. Approximately 8 million jobs in the United States depend on trade with Canada, while 2.4 million or about one in seven in Canada are generated by trade with the United States. Canadian-owned companies in 17,000 locations across the United States employ more than 619,000 Americans.

Supply Chains and Exports

Supply chains between the United States and Canada are also highly integrated. Together, our businesses are making products for the global marketplace, with inputs travelling back and forth across our border throughout the manufacturing process.

The strategic advantages of our supply chains fuel economic growth and prosperity on both sides of our border every day. 

Canada and the United States are each other’s largest export market. In fact, Canada is the number one foreign market for goods for 35 of the 50 states.

In 2011, Canada’s exports of goods and services to the United States were valued at $370.3 billion. Canada’s main export products were mineral fuels and oils, motor vehicles and machinery. Canadians and Americans share the closest energy relationship in the world. Energy infrastructure—including oil and gas pipeline networks and electricity grids—is tightly integrated. Canada is the United States’ largest and most secure supplier of oil, natural gas and electricity. The United States imported $102.2-billion worth of these energy products from Canada in 2011, more than twice the value of energy imports from second-place Saudi Arabia.

Imports and Investment

Canadian imports of U.S. goods and services for the same year were valued at $337.8 billion and consisted principally of motor vehicles, machinery, and electrical and electronic equipment. Canada buys almost three times more from the United States than from China—more than China, Japan and the United Kingdom combined.

Canada and the United States also have one of the world’s largest investment relationships. At the end of 2010, direct investment in Canada from the United States was worth $306.1 billion, representing 54.5 percent of total foreign direct investment in Canada, while Canadian direct investment in the United States was $249.9 billion, or 40.5 percent of total Canadian direct investment abroad.

Bilateral commerce is underpinned by the North American Free Trade Agreement, which came into effect in 1994. Canada-United States trade has nearly doubled since NAFTA was signed.

Perimeter Security and Economic Competiveness

The Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness Action Plan aims to make the land border as efficient as possible through:

  • Harmonized and mutually recognized screening of shipments arriving from offshore, at the perimeter. This means that, under the Action Plan, shipments will be screened at the first point of entry and not re-screened when they cross the Canada-United States land border.
  • Focused land border inspections on high- and unknown-risk travellers and shipments, and not on known low-risk travellers and shipments.
  • Appropriate investments in physical infrastructure and technology at the border, such as expanding the number of NEXUS and FAST lanes and installing faster document readers.

The Joint Action Plan for the Canada-United States Regulatory Cooperation Council will help reduce barriers to trade, lower costs for consumers and business, and create economic opportunities on both sides of the border. It sets out 29 initiatives for Canada and the United States to align their regulatory approaches in the areas of agriculture and food, transportation, health and other areas.

For detailed backgrounders on each area of cooperation and what the initiatives will mean, please consult Perimeter Security & Economic Competitiveness.